Staff members share their “why” as Texas Tech approaches the final weeks of the State Employee Charitable Campaign.
Everyone has a favorite Thanksgiving tradition. From turkey and stuffing to board games and football, it's the little things that bring us joy this time of year.
Landon Akins, managing director of data management for financial resources, and Kimberly Simón, Title IX coordinator, are veteran participants of the SECC. Akins and Simón met and married at Texas Tech. Ten years and two kids later, they still consider Texas Tech home.
“It's important to us as a family to be civic-minded and integrated in our community,” Simón said. “The SECC is a great opportunity to do that. We're at a time in our lives where it's easier to give financially because we do not have the free time we used to have.
“With two young kids, it's hard to volunteer in person. But that's the great part about the SECC: it still connects you to a cause you're passionate about. We have conversations with our kids about why we're giving and who that money is going to help. It fosters some great conversations.”
While the family is busier than ever before, that doesn't mean they don't get involved when they can.
“We do try to get the kids involved in acts of service, however small or simple that may be,” Akins said. “Small actions really do have a cumulative effect. If each of us does our small part, that adds up.”
“If you aren't elbow deep fluffing your stuffing, I don't want it,” Love said.
In addition to her family's famous, and quite laborious, stuffing recipe, Love's other favorite traditions include fried turkey, spending time with her cousins, and the SECC.
“Our office has always been involved with the SECC,” Love said. “It's one of my favorite times of the year.
“We get really creative with it. Sure, we make our own donations, but we also give away some prizes like a signed basketball from men's basketball coach Mark Adams.”
It's evident that longtime SECC participants feel at home during this time of year, but first-time participants can add the campaign to their holiday traditions too.
“I think sometimes it can be a little daunting to get started,” Love said. “I would encourage employees to ask themselves, ‘What makes it personal?'”
Love had a family member receive treatment at the Ronald McDonald House years ago, so ever since, that has been an organization she likes to support.
Akins and Simón have their interests as well.
“I want to see every child fed and all dogs homed,” Simón said. “I am not allowed to adopt every dog I see, though.”
“No, she's not,” Akins, chimed in.
“But that's what I care about. So those are the kinds of organizations I give to,” Simón said.
Love suggests that if nothing comes to mind, scroll through your Facebook newsfeed to see what kind of issues and challenges your friends are facing.
“Some years I give to different organizations,” Love said. “It all depends on what those around me are going through. A few years ago, a colleague on our team was fighting cancer, so it was kind of a no brainer when it came time for us to decide what cause to raise money for.”
No matter what cause you give to, the first step is slowing down enough to notice what those around you are going through – and to listen.
“In any situation we go into, we need to have the understanding that people are more than what we need from them,” Akins said. “This is easy to forget in our fast-paced culture. But when we realize this other person is more than a means to our own ends, we start noticing what their needs are. When we have this perspective, we begin to see everyone differently.”
While this holiday season approaches the end of what has been a grueling economic time for many, it only takes a few dollars to pay it forward.
“I want to solve all the world's problems on my own,” Simón said. “But I can't do that. What I can do is my small part. If each of us at Texas Tech does our small part, we can accomplish tremendous things in our community and in our world.”
For more information on how to get involved with the SECC and a comprehensive list of approved organization, visit the Texas Tech SECC website before the end of the campaign on Nov. 24.