“Giving back to Atlanta” by UNL Atlanta Alum, Malia Murray

“Last week I coordinated a clothing drive to benefit Atlanta based organization, Love Beyond Walls at RaurFest 2015. It was amazing and probably the best service project I’ve ever been a part of! Here’s how it came together:

A couple weeks ago, Raury asked me to coordinate a project to give back to the city of Atlanta at his second annual RaurFest held at the Georgia Freight Depot. He figured since so many people were coming to the show there must be a way for us to mobilize them to give back to our city.

Shortly after my conversation with Raury, one of his managers, Sean, put me in touch with Chandra Stephens-Albright, Executive Director of C5 Georgia, and Leah Scott, C5 Georgia Alumni. (Raury is also an alum of C5.) Leah explained to me how she organized a clothing drive as her C5 Medallion project and she needed an organization to donate the clothes to. I immediately thought of Atlanta based organization, Love Beyond Walls and reached out to founders, Terence and Cecilia Lester.

Love Beyond Walls is a foundation that specializes in providing those in need with resources that will aid them to stand on their feet. The foundation started in 2013 with the mission  to raise awareness of societal needs and mobilizing people to take part! I thought it would be great to bring Leah’s donations to RaurFest, ask Raury’s fans to donate clothes as well and then give all the donations to LBW at the show!

To carry out the project, I recruited 15 UNL youth and 25 C5 Georgia youth. A few days before the event, we all posted to social media platforms asking fans to bring donations to the concert. These items included: jeans, shirts, hiking boots, thermals, socks, and more!

The day of the drive, Terence from Love Beyond Walls brought his mobile makeover van to the event to collect the donations and provide free haircuts to homeless.
When the drive started, we started organizing the donations in boxes. And while this was occurring,  a few of the youth went into the area by Underground Atlanta and informed the homeless that we were supplying them with clothes, hair cuts, food and water. In a matter of minutes they started coming in waves shopping through the donations, getting food & water and receiving hair cuts!

In all, we received over 25 boxes of donations from fans! We also received donations from a vintage shop called Sugga’s boutique & a few of the headliners performing donated clothes as well. Terence and his team gave 20 free hair cuts to the homeless. I believe over 1300 people attended the festival!

I learned SO much completing this project. It was A LOT of planning and communication! But with the help of family, friends, and my UNL family we did it!! I’m very thankful to UNL for teaching me so many ways to combine our “sparks” with service!”