Black Honors Student Organization spearheads winter clothing drive

Black Honors Student Organization (BHSO), wearing face masks, stand by a table piled with donations at their recent event.
(Photo by Makaiya Snead)

Ypsilanti - The Black Honors Student Organization (BHSO) hosted a winter clothes drive, Let’s Get a Bag, during the month of February. On Feb. 25, they brought all donated clothes, hygiene and toiletry products, monetary donations, and nonperishable items to the Student Center to make individualized care bags.

BHSO set up donation boxes in multiple locations around campus, allowing anyone to donate. Donations came from students and staff within the Honors College, collaborating organizations, such as the Rec/IM, and members of the Ypsilanti community.

“We wanted an easy, accessible way that people could donate,” said Makaiya Snead, social chair of the BHSO’s executive board. “If you didn’t have any clothes to donate, we also put the Cash App so we could purchase the clothes for you.”

BHSO's Let's Get a Bag winter clothing drive flyerThe goal was to collect enough items for 15 care bags. Each would contain one hat, one scarf, a pair of gloves, and a pair of socks.

“That went out the window once we had the onslaught of donations come in. It was a big influx,” said Ondrakus Smith, director of operations of the BHSO e-board. “We had over $450 to $500 worth of materials come in.”

The organization expected to receive inexpensive, new and gently used clothes. They were happily surprised to receive new, name-brand products, including Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Polo, Nike, and Adidas.

An anonymous donor gave $200 to purchase gift cards to add to each bag.

Thanks to the amount and variety of items, the organization was able to make bags with gender-neutral, masculine-leaning, and feminine-leaning content. Monetary donations enabled the BHSO to purchase additional items so that each bag had comparable products.

“I was really happy and joyful to see that we had 20+ bags worth of donations,” said BHSO president Jemone Cochran. “That showed that EMU really cared for our cause and they were willing to help us.”

The BHSO’s e-board began planning the event in late January. They made a promotional video and flyer, created social media posts, sent emails, and utilized word-of-mouth to spread word of the event.

“It was the e-board's brainchild,” said Jieron Robinson, Assistant Director of the Honors College and advisor of BHSO. “They came to me with the idea and I immediately said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I’m really proud. They took the initiative and it shows that they want to give back to the community.”

The goal was to support needs in the local community. The bags will be donated to Ozone House’s Ypsilanti location.

“The entire BHSO brought it to fruition,” said Smith. “We want to thank all of our members who participated. Colae Eason was our biggest donor. She, Nashell Wilson, Gabriella Zziwambazza, and Jack Lyons helped us set up.”

Despite the snowy weather and the approach of winter break, about 15 people came to the event to assemble the care bags.

“As a new organization, it’s difficult. No one knows our purpose or vision yet, which makes it difficult to establish who we are and ask for donations,” said Robinson. “[BHSO has] done a great job establishing rapport with other organizations.”

The BHSO calls their organization BHSO 2.0 due to their recent relaunch. The organization existed for many years before going inactive, but Robinson breathed new life into it in the fall 2020 semester.

“This was our first community service event following the relaunch,” said Snead.

Honors College events are not exclusive to Honors students. BHSO’s goals include opening up the organization to the campus and collaborating with the Honors Student Association (after its relaunche) to provide a well-rounded student experience for all Honors students and the EMU community.

“I plan on having another charity event in the fall semester. Sometime in August, the e-board will come together and plan out events before the fall semester begins,” said Cochran. Students who are interested in joining BHSO can contact EMUHonors@emich.edu.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

March 30, 2022

Written by:
Shelby Keil

Contact:
Darcy Gifford
dgiffor2@emich.edu
734.487.5375