From the March 2021 Desktop News | The College of Arts and Sciences Ambassadors have always had a strong community, regularly doing service projects together on top of their duties of meeting with prospective students, donors, and more. When the pandemic hit, the inability to gather in a large group brought some of their normal work to a halt. However, it led to their new community engagement groups, an idea that would further strengthen that community and their connection to Tuscaloosa.
With the creation of the community engagement groups, the Ambassadors have been able to meet in smaller groups. Together, with a fellow ambassador as their leader, they have free reign to decide what organizations or causes they want to help.
“I appreciate the freedom in it, because a lot of the ambassadors are already working on different projects and initiatives,” said Anna Mauldin, an ambassador and leader of one of the groups. “So, instead of finding something new, we wanted to partner with what community members and Ambassadors are already passionate about.”
Mauldin’s group is currently working with the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center, hosting an item drive through March 29 with a goal of putting together both letter-writing kits and hygiene kits. They are asking for donations of spiral notebooks, envelopes, pens, stamps, shampoo, deodorant, feminine products, toothpaste, shaving cream and razors, all of which can be dropped off in the bin in Clark Hall.
“There’s a long list of things they’re needing, but these are things that are affordable for college students and would also make the biggest impact,” Mauldin said.
Another group, led by Ambassador Lauren Iosue, is partnering with the Tuscaloosa SAFE Center, a non-profit that provides a variety of services to sexual assault survivors in West Alabama. Iosue’s group is hosting a clothing drive for the SAFE Center through March 31, in which they are asking for unisex T-shirts, sweatpants, shorts, men’s white underwear and men’s white socks. The clothes must be new and can be dropped off in the bin outside of Clark Hall.
“We wanted to make sure that all the survivors know that we support them,” Iosue said. “I’m really grateful to the Arts and Sciences Ambassadors for giving us the avenue to do this and make sure the people of Tuscaloosa know that the students at UA really do care and really do want to make the city a better place.”
Ambassador Caitlyn Johnson said her group is working on an ad hoc basis, picking up assignments when they come up. Recently, they made stress balls out of balloons, flour and beads for the University’s Women and Gender Resource Center waiting room.
Though created as a result of the pandemic, the Ambassadors hope these groups will continue and motivate the entire UA community to give back on a larger scale.
“I think the College of Arts and Sciences has a history of wanting to help out the community, and continuing that legacy and building on it has been really great,” Mauldin said. “There’s a lot of need, and it’s a great way to invest in the town that we’re in.”