Students foster volunteerism on campus

Posted on May 5 2017 - 8:00am by Kiara Manning

Organizers of Ole Miss’s inaugural Rebel with a Cause week hoped to focus on small-scale changes to make a big community impact.

The campaign, led by Mr. and Miss Ole Miss (Cole Putman and Acacia Santos), kicked off Tuesday and wraps up Friday. Tuesday, local group More than A Meal hosted a discussion on living affordably in Oxford. Student volunteers donated time to the Humane Society and canned meals to a food drive throughout the week.

“Rebel with a Cause’s purpose is to unify the community by identifying ways for people to serve and love in the community,” Putman, said.

Putman said he and Santos worked to include campus and community organizations in their initiative.

“Instead of sponsors, we’re working on partnerships,” Putman said. “We’re partnering with all three Greek councils (IFC, NPC, NPHC), the Humane Society, More than a Meal, the UM Food Bank and ASB.”

Junior public policy leadership and journalism major Savannah Smith attended events throughout the week. She said Rebel with a Cause gives Ole Miss a chance to come together to serve Oxford as a community.

“I went to More than a Meal and loved getting to spend the afternoon with these people and hear about their lives,” she said. “I got to make friendship bracelets and eat dinner with several children. It was just incredible to break down the university and Oxford and remember that Oxford is all of ours.”

Putman said he began planning the week in January and that everything finally came together three weeks ago.

Senior IMC major Lindsay Miller said she was happy to volunteer for Rebel with a Cause. Miller said Rebel with a Cause is important because many people get to come together to support something bigger than themselves.

“I have a real appreciation for Rebel with a Cause,” she said. “I honestly just love Cole and Acacia’s idea of helping students become regular volunteers by offering opportunities to get involved.”

Santos and Putman collaborated with James Thomas from the sociology department and Roane Grantham, the director of More than Meal, to build the week.

Putman said his friends have been instrumental in helping making Rebel with a Cause more than a one-time effort, but rather establish a movement at Ole Miss that will last long past his graduation date.

“We want people to find their cause and follow it,” he said. “We really want people to come to these events and to identify an area, whether it’s in Oxford or on campus, and feel passionate about serving.”