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Local food bank Casa de Peregrinos received a hefty dose of aid thanks to the efforts of students in a health communication class

Thanks to the efforts of committed NMSU students and faculty, many families in the surrounding area were able to put food on their tables. As part of a service-learning project last spring, students in a health communication class created and completed a large-scale fundraising event for a good cause.

In collaboration with Casa de Peregrinos, 31 students went above and beyond to raise $3,500, collect 2,500 pounds of food and secure a donated pick-up truck for food deliveries, all the while showcasing the knowledge and skills they gained in the classroom.

"Service learning as a concept is the idea that students learn about being community servants, and what it means to participate in your community, and not just drive by someone who is homeless and think 'I hope they're OK,'" said Ann Hubbell, associate professor of communication studies. "But then there's also this aspect that people don't know what communication students can do, and all the things they can contribute, and so from another perspective, I wanted to show people what our students can do."

The DRIVE HOPE campaign generated 2,000 meals for Casa de Peregrinos. The class also offered ideas for rebranding the organization. After some brainstorming, the branding group abbreviated the organization to "CDP" and settled on the slogan, "Food for today, hope for tomorrow."

The food drive had an initial goal of 1,000 pounds in two weeks when group members reached out to the NMSU community and held a challenge in the College of Arts and Sciences, where $100 went to the department that collected the most nonperishable food donations.

"We passed out the boxes to the departments," said Ashley Long, communication studies and Spanish double major who led the arts and sciences canvasing. "We gave them a flyer, labels for their boxes, and all the information they needed."

The fundraising group held a wine and cheese event with a silent auction at a local nightclub, where students sold more than 150 tickets to the "Sunday Social Mixer."

The grant group was responsible for writing proposals to ask car dealerships for a pick-up truck donation. They landed a 2004 Chevy Silverado 2500HD valued at $11,000 from Danny Gamboa's Casa de Autos in Las Cruces.

"They took a class project and took it very personally as if it were their job," said Lorenzo Alba, Casa de Peregrinos executive director. "What actually happened is that they became part of our organization even if only for a semester, they lived and breathed, Casa de Peregrinos."

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