There is an Ottawa University student club committed to making a difference in the lives of families in the community.

“I knew this semester we had to do something that was going to affect the community in a positive way.” said Rodney Latham, OU senior. “So we came up with the idea of adopting a family.”

Latham is president of Ottawa University’s Black Student Union, a campus organization that in the past few weeks raised nearly $1,000 dollars for their Fall 2018 “Adopt-a-Family” program. The money raised will go towards buying multiple complete Thanksgiving dinners

“Currently we’re looking at five to seven families that we are going to be adopting this year,” Latham said.

The story of where the funds came is just as inspiring as what they are going toward, Latham said.

“Last semester we had a panel discussion — we had BSU members from the past 40 years,” he recounted. “They were talking about was how BSU did things and had outreach in the community. For instance one of the members talked about how when he was here they did a toy drive for kids at the community who couldn’t afford toys for Christmas. And when we had our alumni dinner, the question was, “What are we doing in the community?”

The organization started their campaign out small.

“Our idea was to raise $200, and then have Student Senate match that $200, so we would have $400 total to support the family,” Latham said. “But then as we started fundraising, we passed that goal.”

The BSU wasn’t prepared for the generous outpouring of support from Ottawa University.

“All I did was put the word out there what we were doing, and people came out to donate,” Latham said. “I thought $200 was going to be a stretch, because I was thinking of it from a student’s perspective. I thought about how expensive it is to attend school, and I thought “if I can just get a dollar from everyone, we can work with that.

“But what started happening was, students were getting multiple dollars. Staff members were coming up and dropping $20s. The other day I sent out an email, saying ‘Hey, we surpassed our goal, now we want to reach $500 and we are $80 short of our goal.’ And within an hour, we were receiving emails from staff members who wanted to donate $100. It showed us just how generous the school is. I didn’t expect it at all, and when it happened, I was amazed.”

The campaign ended Friday, and on Monday, BSU students gathered the meals

“With the help of the Fredrickson center and ECKAN, we got a shopping list, and on Monday students from the BSU took that shopping list and bought their entire meals,” Latham said. “That’s including turkeys, sides, and anything else they might need for dinner.”

The BSU plans to make similar events a bi-annual tradition.

“This is something that we are going to put into our constitution, is that every semester we’re going to do community outreach program,” Latham said. “Next fall it might not be Thanksgiving, it might be something we do for Christmas, and in the spring time it might be buying someone’s Easter dinner. But what we are going to try and do is make sure every semester that we are out in the community having our presence known.”