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Longhorns Start Holiday Season with Day of Service

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Archer Fellowship Program

The end of the semester is often filled with final papers, projects and presentations. For a group of Longhorns living in Washington, D.C., as part of the Archer Fellowship Program, it was also a chance to give back to the local community. The Archer Fellowship Program brings together students from across The University of Texas System to live, learn and intern in the nation’s capital for a fall or spring semester, and each semester about 25 UT Austin undergraduate students participate.

As part of their “Day of Service” project for Michelle Chin’s Policymaking Process course, the Archer fellows were tasked with designing and implementing community service projects to address several needs in the Washington, D.C., area. After being divided into four groups, students created detailed proposals and funding requests, with Archer Center donations providing up to $500 for each group to cover project expenses. One of the goals of the activity was to achieve the maximum impact with a limited budget.

Group projects included assembling and distributing hygiene kits for people experiencing homelessness and coordinating a canned food drive. One group with several UT Austin members partnered with N Street Village, a local charity that offers a broad variety of basic services, housing, and advocacy assistance to more than 2,000 women annually. The team chose N Street Village because the students were particularly interested in pursuing solutions to housing insecurity, health care and dental care. The charity’s goals aligned with their values.

Calling their project Hygiene for Hope, the group organized a donation drive and used their budget to purchase necessities such as laundry soap, shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper and other personal care hygiene products.

“Thanks to the students at The University of Texas at Austin, we were able to provide the women of N Street Village with a variety of cleaning and personal hygiene products. While this year has looked different for our volunteers, we are so grateful they can find a way to safely work together and be a part of the village community,” said Silvia Oakland, volunteer and in-kind gifts coordinator.

Working on the project led the UT Austin team members to reflect on the meaning of the holidays. “As busy interns and students in Washington, D.C., it can be easy to get swept up in the city’s hustle. Through our Hygiene for Hope project, I was grateful for the opportunity to give back to D.C. — a city that has given me so much already as an Archer fellow,” said Thomas Dang, a health and society senior.