Food Drive, Volunteer Work Help Manning Students Learn Corporate Social Responsibility
By Ed Brennen
Manning School of Business students give back to the community in many ways, whether it’s preparing taxes for low-income families, selling backpacks to raise funds for Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell, or renovating homes with Habitat for Humanity.
And this year, students and faculty are finding new ways to get help out.
First-year business student Jayson DeLong wanted to organize a food drive at the Manning School to benefit the Lowell chapter of the Salvation Army, where he works part time. He brought the idea to his Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Business class with Visiting Faculty Lecturer Milissa Moynihan, who helped him organize the collection.
“Corporate social responsibility is so critical for businesses, so when students start looking for jobs, it’s good that they can show they’ve been involved with something on their own,” Moynihan says.
DeLong appreciates the support.
“It’s nice to see that people care so much,” says DeLong, who collected four boxes of food donations the week before Thanksgiving. “Now that we’re in college and off on our own, things can get busy. Taking time to give back and help others can really bring your mood up.”
A native of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, DeLong has grown up working with the Salvation Army. His mom, Kimberley, runs the organization’s chapter in Framingham. As a high school student, DeLong taught music at the Salvation Army locations in Lowell and Fall River, Massachusetts.
His work with the Lowell chapter led to a part-time job there as its youth ministries coordinator — which in turn led him to enrolling at UMass Lowell.
“I like helping out and giving back to others. It’s fulfilling,” says DeLong, who works around 30 hours a week at the Salvation Army.
Nicole Ross, who runs the Salvation Army’s Lowell chapter, is thankful for DeLong’s initiative.
“The holiday season is a big time of year for us. Our corporate partnerships make it possible for us to provide clothes and toys for about 1,500 kids in the community and put food on families’ tables,” she says.
Making the Grade with Community Service
To demonstrate corporate social responsibility, many businesses give their employees paid time off to participate in community service projects. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 47 percent of U.S. companies offered community volunteer programs in 2022.
Elissa Magnant, assistant teaching professor of management, is emulating this model with students in her Business Ethics course semester. In lieu of taking the final exam, Magnant is giving students the option to complete two hours of community service — and then write a graded reflection on the work.
“I felt bad that there are people in our community who have difficulty purchasing enough food to avoid hunger, so I wanted to help in any way possible.” -Senior business major Ryan Sullivan
“It is a way to make the class more authentically experiential, and to give the students an opportunity to experience and reflect on the feelings humans get from giving back and being involved in our communities,” says Magnant, co-director of the Donahue Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility. “It is also a way to illustrate how businesses can collaborate with community stakeholders such as nonprofits and NGOs to impact social issues in a positive manner.”
Senior business major Ryan Sullivan chose the community service option, collecting food donations for the UML Strive Pantry.
“I felt bad that there are people in our community who have difficulty purchasing enough food to avoid hunger, so I wanted to help in any way possible,” says Sullivan, a native of Marshfield, Massachusetts, whose concentration is in management information systems.
Fellow senior management information systems student Brian Nanje volunteered at Lawrence High School, his alma mater.
“I grew up in Lawrence just like these kids, so I want to pass on the advice and lessons I learned. The kids are the future,” says Nanje, who helped check in students for their SATs.
“It’s important for students to give back,” says Nanje, who has also volunteered at the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club, a senior center and food pantries.
This is the first time Magnant has offered the community service option, something she plans to continue in future semesters.
“It has fostered some great class conversations,” she says. “Some students have a history of volunteerism, but some were quite apprehensive at first. The more we discussed ways to help out in our communities, the more enthusiastic they were.”