December 09, 2010

Donations provide boost to care package project

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – A Southern Illinois University Carbondale registered student organization’s project offering family and friends the opportunity to send their students Saluki CEO Corps Care Packages was a success in more ways than one.

The Saluki CEO Corps, for the second year in a row, offered special care packages filled with study tips, fun stress-buster games, tasty treats and more to give students a boost as they prepare for final exams. This year, more than 20 orders came in from all over the country.

But, the chance to give students a little extra TLC caught the attention of others and inspired some extra holiday giving, too. Pepsi Mid-America of Marion donated extra items for the packages. And, some parents from California, who wish to remain anonymous, purchased five of the biggest care packages to donate to deserving students. The Saluki CEO Corps donated an additional package.

Saluki CEO Corps officials decided it was most fitting to present those care packages to students who make a habit of giving to others. Thus, they gave them to students involved with volunteerism through the Saluki Volunteer Corps and the SIUC Land of Lincoln AmeriCorps. All of them are leaders for the Alternate Spring Break project set for the March 2011. They’ll lead SIUC students traveling to four states building homes through the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge.

“These are really the ideal examples of citizen-scholars. They do well in school and make sure to contribute their time and skills to serve in the community and on campus. They are good ambassadors for our University!” said Mythili Rundblad, coordinator of Student Development.

The Saluki volunteer care package recipients include:

• Toni Manzella, a senior social work/psychology major from New Lenox. She is a two-year member of AmeriCorps and was instrumental in the reinstitution of the SIUC Habitat for Humanity program. She also won a prestigious volunteerism internship in Washington, D.C., for summer 2010.

• Will Ryan, a senior political science major from Olive Branch who served one year in Land of Lincoln AmeriCorps. He is a Navy veteran who assisted with restarting the University’s Habitat for Humanity and also organized the Martin Luther King Day of Service, bringing in considerable donations for six local non-profit organizations in January 2010.

• Jackie Bessette, a senior English major from New Lenox. She is a two-year AmeriCorps member who worked with Manzella and Ryan and the Habitat for Humanity program startup and who has volunteered at the Good Samaritan House Ministries.

• Paul Beckmeyer, a senior history major from Irvington. He’s a two-year AmeriCorps member who tutors and mentors students at Parrish School in Carbondale, drawing high praise from administrators, teachers and students. He is very involved with SIUC Habitat for Humanity as well.

• Aidee Torres, a senior history major from Hoopeston. She is very active with Habitat for Humanity and is a first-year AmeriCorps member. In addition to her schoolwork and volunteerism, she’s worked about 30 hours weekly during college to help support herself and younger siblings.

• Liz Garrett, a senior from Benton majoring in social work. She organizes fundraising efforts for the Habitat for Humanity RSO and is also vice president of the Social Work Student Alliance, an RSO involved in community service.

“We wanted to acknowledge and reward students who truly have a real passion for community service and spend countless hours giving back to the community,” said Jenni Janssen, assistant director of the Center for Innovation and one of the faculty advisers for Saluki CEO Corps.

The sale of the care packages enabled the Saluki CEO Corps members to practice their entrepreneurial skills while helping fellow students preparing for final exams. The Saluki CEO Corps’ goal is “to inform, support and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and seek opportunity through enterprise creation.”

For more information about the RSO, e-mail or call 618/453-7788.

To learn more about becoming involved in Saluki Volunteer Corps or the Land of Lincoln AmeriCorps, contact Rundblad at 618/453-5714 or by e-mail at