‘Letters to St. Jude’ initiative taking place through Oct. 31

Lauren Reid, Content Editor

Oakland University students have the opportunity to write a virtual letter to St. Jude patients until Oct. 31, as part of an initiative by OU’s Leadership and Volunteer Center. 

“The Letters to St. Jude Patients is part of our initiative this year to provide high impact, virtual or long distance service opportunities for students and staff,” said Jeremy Heinlein, coordinator of leadership and service programs at the Office for Student Involvement (OSI) via email. “Our goal is to stay community focused even during restrictions placed due to COVID-19.”

To write a letter, students can visit the letter’s to St. Jude patients page on the OU calendar and click on the link, where they will be redirected to St. Jude’s website. From here, students can select artwork for their card and write a message, either personalized or pre-written, and it’s free.  

Emily Bernas, graduate assistant for leadership and service learning at the OSI, mentioned finding community service opportunities is difficult amid COVID-19, but writing letters came to mind as a safe service outlet. The Letters to St. Jude opportunity popped up with a quick Google search, as said by Bernas. 

“Once I clicked on the [Letters to St. Jude page], I [realized] it was super easy to write a letter,” Bernas said. “St. Jude [will] print the letters out and deliver them to each room as they go. It takes probably two minutes, it’s super quick — I hop on every morning [to] do one and send it in.” 

Bernas believed the Letters to St. Jude opportunity was perfect to put up on GrizzOrgs, and hopes students will keep writing letters. 

“[Last] summer, I worked with a nonprofit organization similar to Make-A-Wish but exclusively for children in Michigan,” Bernas said. “I have a soft spot in my heart for kids who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses.” 

Make a Difference week is also coming up, beginning Oct. 19 through Oct. 24. Each day will come with a different volunteer opportunity where students can participate either virtually or in-person. 

“In the past, it’s been Make a Difference Day, where we sent students to locations off-campus to do community service,” Bernas said. “[This year], because of COVID-19, the school can’t sponsor any travel events, so we knew it had to be either on-campus or virtual.” 

Make a Difference week spans five days, kicking off with the creation of audiobooks on Monday, Oct. 19 and wrapping up with an in-person volunteer opportunity at the student farm on Friday, Oct. 24. 

Other Make a Difference week opportunities include writing thank-you letters to blood donors, making dog toys out of t-shirts and blankets and coloring motivational drawings for sick children.

Amidst all of the uncertainty COVID-19 presents, Bernas mentioned students still want volunteer hours and organizations still need lots of help. 

“It’s not only me trying to get creative with community service opportunities, but it’s nonprofits getting creative trying to get help without having in-person gatherings,” Bernas said. “It’s been interesting to see how creative people have been and how open to new ideas [they are].”

For more information on upcoming initiatives and service opportunities, visit the OSI homepage.