9 Conversations to Have with Your Parents Before Heading to College!

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Jun 09, 2015 @ 03:55 PM

“Can we talk?” These are the three words every teenager dreads hearing from their parents. But, it’s Having a chat with your parents before you head to college can mean the world to them!inevitable. You’re leaving the nest and heading off to college. Besides, your folks have put in 18 years of hard work. They’ve housed you, fed you, and clothed you. They’ve taken you to every little league practice, volleyball game, and band concert. They even took you to see One Direction and stayed for the concert. (Okay, I’m referring to myself right now, but you get the idea!)

College will be a big change for you and your parents. When you get to school, you’ll hit the ground running – new schedules, dealing with money, taking care of your health, no curfews, etc. Believe it or not, your parents have experienced a few of these things and actually do have some amazing college advice.

So surprise them with your maturity and initiate a few discussions over the summer. You can handle it. After all, you’re a high school graduate!  Here are a few starter points to help you get the conversation going.

1. Communication

Your parents are used to seeing you and talking to you every day. If you currently text them throughout the day now, they may expect that to continue. However, with your new schedule, it might not be a priority for you. Talk about how you plan to communicate. Will you respond to texts or calls every day or once a week? Set a day and time to FaceTime or Skype. Sometimes parents just need to see your smiling face. Have a chat about social media use as well. If your parents are on Facebook and Instagram, is it okay for them to comment on your activities? Be honest with them now about communication expectations.

2. Assistance

Talk to your parents about what sort of support you will need from them - financially, emotionally, and physically. If you’ve always relied on Mom and Dad to take care of things, including paying for everything, doing your laundry and cleaning your bathroom, how will you navigate this new territory on your own?

“Families should have some discussions about expectations for their student’s spending, behavior, and goals for academic success,” said Jeff Rickey, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for St. Lawrence University.

Michael R. Coombes, Director of New Student Programs for North Carolina State University, said parents often struggle with balancing how to support their child without complete reliance. Students should be encouraged to call their parents if they have issues, but they should not automatically expect answers to their problems.

“Finances can be a huge stressor,” added Coombes. “It’s important for students to realize the ultimate cost of education. It’s not just tuition. There’s the cost of eating, going out, books, club fees, clothing, groceries, transportation, etc. Costs add up very quickly.”

Coombes advises that parents be up front from the beginning about what they can contribute and what they expect their student to contribute. In addition, if parents provide an allowance, discuss expectations about how that money should be used. If it’s all spent on social activities and then there’s no money left for books, what are the consequences?

3. You’re Not in High School Anymore!3b_layingingrass_DSC05409-2-1

For four years, you went to class in the same building, had a lot of the same teachers, and your parents got your grades. You played a sport or joined a club and practices and meetings were held right after school.

Now, you have an entire campus to navigate. Larger classrooms with hundreds of students, different teaching styles, and classes located on opposite sides of a massive campus can make for some stressful adjustments. In addition, there are many more activities competing for your attention. From intramural teams and Greek life, to clubs and service organizations, you will have to make some decisions about what’s important to you regarding extra-curricular activities.

How are you going to handle it? Your parents know you well and can probably offer some great insight in how to deal with these new changes. And remember, in college your parents don’t automatically get to see your grades. Discuss now if you will grant them access.

4. Time Management

If you are coming from an environment where everything is very structured and someone is always telling you where to go, what to do, and when to do it, then one of the biggest changes you will face is time management. You will have to manage your time and learn to balance your life socially, emotionally, and academically. Talk to your parents about the best ways to responsibly enjoy your newfound freedom.

“Students have the freedom to go to class or not,” said Coombes. “They have complete control of what they do. It takes a while to really understand what that means.”

Remember your parents have been scheduling your life since you were old enough to join your first playgroup. They can offer great advice about setting up a schedule that works for you.

 5. Staying Healthy and Happy

Sure, it’s going to be great not having Mom nag you about eating your fruits and vegetables every day. However poor eating decisions combined with staying up late and not getting enough exercise, can wreak havoc with your health and energy levels. Talk to your parents about what you should do if you’re not feeling well and when to call a doctor. Do you know how and where to fill a prescription? Do you have a health insurance card in your wallet?

Now that you’re 18, school and health officials cannot share your information with your parents without your permission. Talk to them about what you should do if you are extremely sick or feeling depressed. They won’t be there to call the doctor. You will need to call and ask for help.

6. Newfound Freedom and Behavior

It may sound great to stay up all night and not worry about a curfew, but at some point you will have to set some limitations. Have an honest conversation with your parents about social life. Crazy as it may seem, your Mom and Dad were young once and probably have a few good stories to share. Ask for and listen to their advice about drinking, socializing, staying out late, checking in, campus safety, being out alone, etc. “It’s better to do it before rather than after something happens,” said Coombes.

Of course, some of these topics are not easy to discuss, but they are crucial conversations to have. Your parents need to know that you are aware of these issues and will know how to handle them if the situation arises.

7. Campus Safety & Emergencies

You’re at an age where you feel invincible, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions. Discuss how you plan to contact each other in case of emergencies. Your parents have protected you from the instant you were born and it’s hard to let go. Having a serious conversation about how you plan to stay safe and deal with different emergency and safety issues will help alleviate their fears and make you a street-smart savvy student.

8. Home for the Holidays

It’s important to discuss now whether or not you’ll be coming home for holiday breaks. If you can’t come home for breaks, what are your options?

“If students live far away from the college they are attending, they should already have a plan about when and how they will go home for the first time,” said Rickey.  “Will it be at mid-semester break, Thanksgiving, or winter break?  Will parents be coming to campus for family weekend? Knowing when they will see family again soothes the students.”

 9. Saying GoodbyeFemale_Resident_Move-In_Day

You know it’s going to happen. Your parents may get a little emotional when it’s time to say goodbye. We can’t help ourselves. We are excited for you and this next phase in your life. We don’t want to embarrass you (really!), but we may need a little help in moving on. Figure out now the best way to send your parents on their way after move-in day. Let them know you love them, but don’t want an emotional goodbye in front of your roommate.

Your relationship with your parents can remain constant in certain aspects, but as you embark on this new phase in your life, don’t be surprised if you notice a few changes. “This is a very unique time in a parent/student relationship,” said Coombes.

Take advantage of this time before school begins. Have a few heart to heart chats with your parents before you head to school. It will mean the world to them and believe it or not, it will mean the world to you too – one day!

Photo credits: Matt Siegel and Mississippi State University Public Affairs 

Also check out our post about the 15 Things You Should Do Before the First Day of College!











Topics: college

15 Things To Do Before Your First Day of College!

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, May 19, 2015 @ 04:41 PM

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to college! All those long years of hard work have paid off. Now you can kick back, put your feet up and chill until the first day of your freshman year, right? WRONG!

There’s a lot to do between now and that first day of school and while your parents may have taken care of all the little details in the past, now it’s time for you to step up and take responsibility! We know this may be new for you and your parents, so here are a few tips to help you both make a smooth transition.

1. Confirm your enrollment and send in your deposit!

Yes, the letter said you got in, but there’s a lot more important information in that packet. Take some time and review it, as well as deadlines for requested information. In addition, check your e-mail often for any updates.

2. Check out your school’s website. 

Just about every school has a “New Student” section.  Read it now. There may be early deadlines for medical forms, registration for orientation, residence hall selection, and online awareness education programs, just to name a few. Don’t wait until the week before school begins to go through the list.

“In May, after all new students have made their deposits, they are given access to websites to help them learn about registration, complete their housing form, submit health forms, and learn about other helpful guides to promote their success,” said Jeff Rickey, Vice President and Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid for St. Lawrence University. 

Michael Coombes, director of North Carolina State University’s New Student Program, encourages parents and students to visit their school’s website often and double check the New Student Check List.  “The list is a roadmap of what to do between the time of when they get accepted and before they start classes. Take care of things early. The less you have to do in August, the better.”

3. Schedule your orientation session now. New_Student_Orientation_at_NC_State_University-1

The earlier you do it, the better. Don’t forget to book hotel rooms too. Depending on where you go to school, there may not be a lot of options for lodging. In addition, if your parents plan to bring you to school for move-in day and they need to stay overnight, make those reservations now too.

Parents are encouraged to attend orientation. It’s a great way to support students with their transition to school. “Orientation can give parents a basic knowledge of what their student is going to experience,” said Coombes. “It helps parents understand the environment, as well as the different resources available to the students.”

4. Get Connected!

It can all start with #. Take some time to get connected to your new school.  There are so many options and social media is a great place to begin. “After students are admitted they are encouraged to join their class social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,” said Rickey.

In addition, different groups for your major, your residence hall, or clubs, etc., may have their own social media presence. At NC State, #NCState19 is used for new students to find each other, learn about different events, and follow relevant information. When students come to orientation or the start of the semester, they already have a certain comfort level because #NCState19 started the conversation.

“Often, it’s the students who create these connections on their own,” said Coombes. “It stems from what students want. They are forming smaller connections. It makes the students feel they are a part of the community, a part of their new home.”

5. Sign up for housing.

Residence halls fill up fast. Make sure you get your assignment as soon as possible. Social media is a great way to learn about different housing options, get insight from upperclassmen, and even research creative decorating ideas. Check out YouTube for virtual tours! It’s also a great way to find or get to know your future roommate! Once you have your roommate assignment, Rickey recommends making contact as soon as possible.

6. Look for First Year Send-Off parties.

Many universities have alumni chapters or parent association groups that host get-togethers in local cities for new students to meet each other, as well as meet returning students or alumni. It’s a great way for parents to connect as well. “This bridges the connection to their new school and makes them feel they are part of the community,” said Coombes. “It gets them excited about what they are doing.”

7. Keep your brain active.

“After high school graduation, students should read,” said Rickey. “Reading promotes better reading - a skill that is paramount in college – and promotes better writing, too, another vital skill.”

Many universities now have a common reading program. A book is chosen for everyone to read over the summer. “It connects the students to the intellectual environment,” said Coombes. “When they come to campus, they can hear the author of the book speak. They participate in programs and discussions. Students can have conversations and think critically about themes in the book. We have one common experience. It keeps their mind fresh.”

Coombes also suggests that students familiarize themselves with the university’s academic resources before they get to school. “If students know they are there, they are more apt to use them.”

8. Think about how you want to engage in your campus when you get there.St._Lawrence_Orientation

“Engagement is vital to their success,” said Coombes. “Take a look at your university and what you want out of it. Think about ways to engage in your new community, whether it’s in a sorority or fraternity, a club, studying abroad, or service learning. Ask yourself who you are going to be and how are you going to act. Think critically about your behavior.”

“College is an opportunity for a student to reinvent herself or himself,” said Rickey. “If a student has a bad habit, she or he wants to break, then now is the time. One way to ease the college transition is to be open-minded and to be interested in everyone and everything. Just about everyone is looking for new friends!”

9. Look for opportunities to be independent.

Get a part time job for the summer or look for opportunities to volunteer in your community. If you don’t have one already, set up a checking account and talk to your parents about financial responsibility and spending behavior, as well as how to use a debit card or credit card wisely. Do your own laundry!

“Students who have not experienced some independence before coming to college sometimes have challenges dealing with the freedom and responsibility that comes with attending college,” said Rickey. “Parents would do well to promote or create opportunities for their high schoolers to exercise some independence and have them learn the joys, challenges, and lessons that stem from doing things themselves.”

10. Attend Welcome Week.

Look for events that might help you adapt to your new environment and meet other new students. Welcome Week is geared for new students and usually takes place the week before classes begin. NC State also has a Summer Start program, a Symposium, and an Outward Bound trip. “It’s a great way to connect to the institution and build a small community within a huge campus,” said Coombes.

11. Don’t wait to pack!

You would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t!) at how many students wait until the night before to pack. Think about what you need for the semester. Keep a running list over the summer and start putting things aside. Give yourself time to go through everything again before you leave.

12. Go for a walk.

During Orientation, Welcome Week, and before your first day of classes, walk the campus. Go to each classroom and see how long it takes to get from class to class. Become familiar with your surroundings. Coombes said many students admit they wished they had looked at a map of the campus and walked it before classes began.

13. Don’t do anything you’ll regret. 

Every university has a code of conduct and your admission is not guaranteed. “We expect students to continue performing at the level at which they were admitted,” said Rickey.  “We have rescinded our offer of admission when the student has underperformed. We have also rescinded admission for criminal offenses that occurred after our offer of admission.”

14. Have some conversations. 

Don’t wait till the week before drop-off to talk with your parents. Have conversations throughout the summer about expectations about grades, finances, privacy, communication, behavior, etc. Also talk about whether parents will have access to grades and financial information.

15. Have fun! 

Make time to get together with family and friends this summer. Celebrate your accomplishments and share the excitement of your future at college!

Photo credits:  Tara Freeman, St. Lawrence University,  and Blaise Bolemon, New Student Programs, NC State University.  

Topics: back to school, college, College advice

NobleHour Heads to the 2015 National Service-Learning Conference

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Wed, Apr 08, 2015 @ 11:42 PM

NobleHour is attending the National Service-Learning Conference (NSLC) as a sponsor for the fourth year in a row. The 26th annual NSLC will be held in Washington, DC on April 8-11. This year’s theme, “More Powerful Together,” emphasizes how making meaningful connections increases the effectiveness of service-learning. This event brings together educators, students, nonprofit organizations, and community members to discuss how they can make impactful change through service-learning.


Participating in workshops, listening to guest speakers, and engaging in a day of service will expose attendees to the tools, resources, and solutions they can use in service-learning. Although those in attendance will represent a diverse group of people, they share a common goal. They hope to improve their schools, communities, and world by empowering young people and encouraging them to take an interest in the issues around them. Fueled by this passion, the conference will examine current issues and how collaborative efforts are a necessary component of the solutions. Everyone has ideas that can improve our world, but learning how to translate ideas into actions is a daunting challenge, particularly for young people. Service-learning brings young people together to share their knowledge and hope for something better. It is through these experiences that they can supplant problems with change.

The NobleHour team feels a deep connection with the NSLC because our roots are in service-learning. NobleHour began as a tool built specifically for volunteering and service-learning. Then a high school sophomore, Callahan Fore founded NobleHour in 2005 as a simple database where students could learn about volunteer opportunities in their communities and organizations could find volunteers. The site grew to include all of service-learning's best practices and a complete suite of tools to encourage students to explore new interests, initiate connections, track and record engagements, and gain real-world experience while contributing to a larger cause.

NobleHour is proud to advance the field of service-learning. As an educational tool, we are committed to supporting educators who are invested in empowering and engaging young people. As most of the NSLC attendees are students, NobleHour hopes to connect students with their communities, so that they may become tomorrow's leaders by solving real-world problems today. Indeed, the NobleHour network of communities, schools, non-profits, and individuals is an example of how we can be “More Powerful Together.” 

The NSLC is one of many initiatives organized by the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC). NYLC is an organization that promotes, supports, and facilitates service-learning as a method of creating “...a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.” With the help of its many sponsors, such as NobleHour, the advice of its Youth Advisory Council, and partnerships with schools and organizations, NYLC advocates for service-learning by supporting educators and young leaders.

The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) provides NYLC with a youth prospective. The YAC is composed of young leaders recognized for groundbreaking achievements in service-learning. These young people go above and beyond when they volunteer, found non-profits, and engage in social entrepreneurship. They bring their experience to advise the NYLC on how service-learning programs can be more effective in encouraging young people to begin acting in their communities.

One such program is Project Ignition, a campaign to improve motor vehicle safety awareness. According to NYLC, car crashes are the number one cause of teen deaths, and Project Ignition hopes to educate young people on driving safety. Project Ignition is designed with service-learning in mind by making this a youth-led effort. Students combine service to their communities with academic lessons that analyze how and why culture contributes to unsafe driving. At NSLC, most of these participants will be students from all over the country bringing their ideas, big or small, for how to improve their world. These young change makers represent a future brightened by collaborative efforts.

The NSLC is a spirited and meaningful event powered by the energy and open minds these young people will bring. If you are attending the NSLC, be sure to stop by the NobleHour booth to say hello and pick up a free water bottle! Make sure you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for updates, and follow the hashtag #mpt15!

YAMFest Fosters Community Discussion about the Impact of Technology on Students

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 @ 10:49 AM


It is a normal Saturday morning and I find myself convincing my brother Mariusz to come to YAMFest with me. My methods of persuasion with a teenage boy involve promising I’ll buy him food and the opportunity to win prizes, but I’m hoping that the real reward is that he might learn something new. Reluctantly he joins me, but not without first asking, as you may be wondering also, what is YAMFest and why is it so important?

YAMFest (Youth and Media Festival) is a student-organized event at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC that explores how young people can better engage with technology. This past Saturday, over 350 students, educators, and members of the community attended the third annual YAMFest.

After the opening ceremony, YAMFest guests attended two sessions hosted by guest speakers from the community and by Grimsley students and organizations. For each session there were five possible presentations to attend, which covered a variety of topics: The cultural significance of hip hop and punk rock, the problems and benefits of technology use, business and marketing relationships, coding in Scratch, and using Linux.

IMG_2468-1[Left: Students attend "Nexus between Hip Hip and Punk Rock" by Bryan Turman]

After these morning sessions, four student speakers from the Greater Greensboro Area shared their experiences creating feature length films, starting a photography career, and sharing their original music online. These four students represent how young people can use technology and media to become young entrepreneurs by simply sharing their interests and hobbies. A preview of a documentary by Grimsley Filmmakers Club about the Poet Laureate Project was also shown. At the beginning of the day each attendee was given a raffle ticket, and in the closing ceremony four iTunes gift cards, two selfie sticks, an iHome speaker system, and a Galexy 4 tablet were given away.

The Project Committee for YAMFest 2015 consists of 27 students from Grimsley High School. However, many other clubs, organizations, and sponsors were also involved, putting the estimate at about 100 people who helped make YAMFest a reality.


[Left: Members of the Project Committee]

The YAMFest Project Committee has two advisors at Grimsley High School, math teacher Roberta Rohan and librarian Jessica Sherard. As an educator, Rohan describes that supporting students outside of class “shows that you care about them and their other interests.” She says that, particularly in high school, each teacher will teach their favourite subject, but one of “the joys of teaching is seeingthem outside of class and supporting what they can do . . . you learn from them and you enjoy it.”

After having been involved with YAMFest as a junior, Paige Kitchen was invited to become the Project Manger in the beginning of her senior year. As a young leader, she has learned the importance of having a strong team supporting her. The Project Committee began working in August to plan the event. The day before YAMFest, she and her team were hard at work, but at no moment were they nervous. “We were all just so excited, the whole team . . . they’re so awesome,” says Kitchen.

IMG_2484[Right: Paige Kitchen]

Students like Paige are models of how young people can make a positive impact on their community. Her advice to other young leaders is to accept that at times there will be stress, but “make sure you’re having fun during the process. Seriously, if you’re not laughing all the time and enjoying the process, then you will never be truly absorbed by it.” The most challenging part was organizing speakers for the event, Kitchen reflects. However it was worth the effort because she hopes that from these presentations her peers can gain a better understanding of technology and “hopefully be more conscious of the things they do” with technology.

YAMFest’s huge success is due to the though provoking questions it asks of Millennials. Indeed, Millennials may be the most technology-steeped generation in history, but they rarely stop to consider how technology affects our lives in many profound ways.


[Left: Members of the Project Committee]

“I just hope that people understand what we’re trying to do. We’re not some kind of boring, computer gadget museum day. No, we’re here to show you the technology that you don’t expect!” says Kitchen.

In the session entitled “Tools and Technologies: Are There Any Questions?” Muktha Jost from North Carolina A&T State University asked students to consider “how you evaluate your technology.” Technology can be both useful and dehumanizing. She described high technology such as a smartphone as the “external brain,” while low technologies, tools such as a pencil or knife, help someone develop a “craft.” She challenged students, after evaluating technology, to ask, “Taking away the external brain, what can you do?”

Music is one such “craft” that is changing in response to new technology. Gisselle Gladden, senior at Grimsley High School, describes that her favourite part of YAMFest was “learning about the technological advancements throughout the evolution of music and how today we take different approaches to discovering new music.”IMG_2473

[Right: Members of the Project Committee]

Sabrina Cheung, a member of the Project Committee for YAMFest, shared with me her experiences with this project. “Before, I wasn’t aware of the deep connection between youth and media. Art, music, and technology are so deeply ingrained into us. I hope that other youth can recognize this.”

YAMFest challenges young people to be self-aware of the ramifications of having an online presence, and to use their technology in the best way possible. As a regular blogger for NobleHour, I wanted to share some recent news that ties into this YAMFest mission. NobleHour.com is an example of a website used by students that is committed to a conscientious approach to young people and technology. NobleHour recently became one of 127 signatories to the Student Privacy Pledge. As a software provider to K-12 schools, NobleHour assures parents, teachers, and students that data collected from students is for the sole purpose of supporting learning opportunities and providing educational services.

After convincing my brother to attend YAMFest, Mariusz did not win any of the raffle prizes I promised him. He also complained that we didn’t order enough breakfast. I half-expected him to maintain his morning grumpiness and to hide the fact that he’d enjoyed himself. But at the end of the day, I asked him, “Mariusz did you learn anything?” and he nodded and smiled with a very enthusiastic “yes.”

 Photos: Natasha Derezinski-Choo 

9 Tips to Help Plan a Successful Campus Fundraiser

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Fri, Mar 06, 2015 @ 12:14 PM

While we all know college can cost a lot of money, let’s face it – students themselves don’t necessarily have a lot of disposable income, especially for campus fundraisers. Many students may need to work multiple jobs to pay for tuition, or they might be living on a tight budget.  In addition, there are a lot of  “extra-curriculars” competing for their dollars!

Funding is competitive on campus. While volunteering within your school community is truly important, there are still expenses like transportation, supplies, etc., in addition to raising funds for a cause or service event. If you want your club or service organization to succeed, you need to raise money. Planning a fundraiser on campus takes discipline, creativity, and solid communication skills. If you need to increase your funding, check out these tips from experienced student fundraisers to organize your next event.

1. Form a committee and get organized. 

Find out who’s interested in planning your club’s fundraiser. Know your members’ talents and make use of their expertise. Discuss your budget, time frame, and goals. “We have a Vice President of Philanthropy and her committee plans and organizes each event we put on,” said Isa Brooks, a member of the Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) sorority at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Brooks, a junior, serves as Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing for the sorority. She said AXO also has an Executive Board that is dedicated to the planning stages, as well as the overall execution of events.

2. Get Permission!

Before you commit a lot of time and resources to your event, make sure you have permission from your organization’s governing board, as well as the appropriate university department. Get it in writing! In addition, check your school’s calendar to make sure you aren’t competing with other clubs for funds and attendance.

3. Be specific in your communications. 

Clearly explain why you are raising money and how the funds will be used. Alpha Chi Omega raises money annually for Domestic Violence Solutions, a local women's center in Santa Barbara. “We have two main events during the year,” said Brooks. “Both involve getting the Greek and the larger UCSB community together to fundraise for the women's center, as well as bring about awareness.”

4. Be Professional.10984714_10153169825364388_789415289_n

“You are fundraising for a worthy cause,” said Jane Berry, a junior at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Berry is one of three fundraising and development coordinators for the Waltham Group, the umbrella community service organization for the university.

“You should believe in and care about your project,” said Berry. However, just because you care, doesn’t always mean that everyone else will. Berry cautions that as a college student, you may not automatically receive the respect or attention of companies, partners, and volunteers. “They make take one look at you or your email address and decide it’s not worth it.”

To make a good impression when fundraising in public, Berry suggests team members wear similar outfits to show you are part of a specific group. By looking professional and a part of a team, faculty and students are more likely to stop and talk for a few seconds. This could be a club t-shirt or maybe a solid color shirt and dark pants. Berry advises not to wear anything too crazy. You don’t want to scare away shy freshmen!

While it’s easy to remember to be professional in person, Berry acknowledged students might forget to do so when making phone calls and sending e-mails. “My team’s solution for this was to make scripts for all the different types of phone calls we make and emails we send and sort them into Google Docs folders based on each fundraiser.”

5. Always get a name, title and phone number.

“No matter who you are talking to or what you are asking for, make sure to get their name and position,” said Berry. “When we run our annual holiday auction at school, it’s essential to know exactly who within a company has guaranteed us what. It also applies to smaller fundraisers when you just want to know your contact.”

6. Make sure everyone is on the same page – literally!

As mentioned previously, Berry’s team puts everything on Gmail and Google Docs. Using the same account allows them to see each email sent. “It looks professional with the uniform signature and the docs don't get lost through email,” said Berry.

7. Be proactive with your marketing and create a buzz about your event.10967814_10153169825339388_1018867664_n

Social media is one of the easiest ways to reach out to potential donors, but it shouldn’t be the only avenue used. AXO works with local businesses and donors by sending out newsletters about their philanthropy. “We try to start fundraising as early as possible,” said Brooks. “We also try to create innovative ways to create a buzz about our events in our own Greek community by tabling, making announcements to other sororities and fraternities on campus, and holding fundraising events at restaurants in our student neighborhood.”

Brooks stressed that creativity is key and emphasized the importance of engaging the community during fundraising campaigns. “We usually create competitions within the Greek community at our sponsoring restaurants.”

Berry advised to do anything and everything to get students interested. “If people don’t know about your fundraiser, no one is coming,” she said. “Write in chalk on the sidewalks in heavy traffic areas, put up flyers with catchy slogans, send out campus-wide e-mails, and post incessantly on social media.”

While students lead busy lives and may not go out of their way to part with their money, if they know about your cause, they may at least be curious to learn more about what you’re doing. Plus, if your information table is positioned along their daily route, they may just stop to see what all the excitement is about.

8. Address a student need.brandeis

If you address a specific need, students may be more willing to give freely with the added bonus of helping others! “If we throw an event involving food, then students love to participate,” said Brooks. “Our Pizza Pie with Alpha Chi event is a favorite. The community comes to our house and they design their own mini pizza. All proceeds go to our local women’s shelter.”

Berry said her most successful fundraisers have been holiday silent auctions, which also appeal to teachers and staff; a Valentine’s Day roses sale; and late-night food delivery service. 

“I was actually truly surprised at how many fellas stepped up and got their girls red roses,” said Berry. “The convenience of having them on campus really drew people in. Students love grilled cheese delivered right to their door, especially if you’re open late!”

9. Communicate progress and success!

It’s important to maintain a good relationship with all of your donors. Share your progress throughout the campaign via social media and on campus through tables, signage, etc. When your event is over, let everyone know the results and how their support will benefit others. Make sure to let your donors and sponsors know how much you appreciate their assistance. Send out thank you messages via social media, e-mail, and newsletters. If possible get a quote or picture from the organization that received the funds.

Raising money isn’t easy, but with preparation, organization, and a little creativity, you can make your fundraiser a success. Do you have a few more tips that worked for your club? Share them with our readers!


Photos courtesy of UCSB chapter of Alpha Chi Omega and the Waltham Group at Brandeis University.





Topics: college, fundraising, campus fundraiser

7 Things You Can Do to Support International Women’s Day

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Fri, Mar 06, 2015 @ 11:19 AM

International Women’s Day (IWD) is on March 8, 2015 and has been celebrated since 1911. IWD is a worldwide movement to “celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.” To participate in IWD, you should promote awareness, learn about the issues facing women worldwide, and take action to show your support of women around the globe. On this day, we recognize that the most marginalized group in the world comprises half of the population and that changes need to be made. Improving the lives of women is in everyone’s interest because everyone has women in their life. Women with better lives would make for a better society. Here are seven ways you can take part in IWD through your thoughts and actions.

1. Ask the Question: Does Gender Inequality Exist?

Evidence for gender inequality lies in the fact there are women missing from the world. At birth, more girls are born than boys. This is a biological fact that humans cannot change. Additionally, women tend to live longer than men. However, worldwide there are more men than women. Approximately 100 million are “missing,” indicating that barriers in health, education, and economics are indeed yielding an unequal world—this we can change.[1] In the developed world, women can work, vote, and go to school, but inequality remains. For some, this means women are treated equally, but this is not true. The sentiment for equality does not ensure its actualization.

2. Make it Happen

The 2015 theme for IWD is “Make it Happen.” It is a reminder to reflect on what needs to be done to improve equality and to make these changes happen. Gender equality means women can also “make it happen” when they don’t have to face barriers to their independence, freedom, success, and happiness. Use your social media influence to talk about IWD using the hashtag #MakeItHappen.

3. Wear and Share the Color Purple

Purple is the color for IWD. In the early 1900s, the colors of the British suffragette group, Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), were purple, white, and green. Purple symbolizes justice and equality—two important tenets of gender equality—and has been adopted as the IWD color[2]. White symbolized purity, and green symbolized hope. You can participate in IWD by wearing purple and sharing #PaintItPurple on social media.

4. Be a Leader

Throughout history, women in positions of power was limited to a few individuals who inherited power due to lack of a male heir. Here are some facts and markers of progress: In 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the first democratically female elected head of state as prime minister of Sri Lanka.[3] Afghanistan, Cuba, and 57 other countries have a higher percentage of elected women than the United States.[4] However despite these advances, only 20% of parliamentarians (elected representatives) in the world are women.[5] In democratic governments, it makes sense for women to have influence as representatives of half of the population, and this is an area where the world could improve by teaching girls that women are also leaders.

5. Have Compassion

IWD may often seem to celebrate “Great Women History,” but it also reminds us to think about our mothers, sisters, and friends. Surely there are incredible women in your life. The cumulative memory of our actions will someday characterize our place in history, so let us try to create a society remembered for its compassion. Our attitudes towards success, beauty, and proper conduct affect our treatment of women. A compassionate society would treat its women with respect. It would not objectify them. It would want them to be happier.

6. Advocate for Education

In countries like the United States, nothing prevents girls from going to school, but this is not the case everywhere. In many places, women’s inability to access education has a negative impact on their entire life. A powerful video by the non-profit, One Girl, illustrates the improvements a girl can make to her life when she can go to school. She can work, be independent, maintain her health, and provide a better future for her family. The divide between women’s educational opportunities around the globe is an important reason to stop and reflect on IWD.

7. Understanding Equality

A common misconception is that advocating for women’s rights means advocating against men. I think Cheris Kramarae put it best when she said, “feminism is the radical concept that women are people.” It’s no secret that women have not been treated equally in history. IWD is a celebration of the progress women have made to overcome these challenges and serves as a reminder that our world is not yet equal. It’s difficult to see how a world where half the population was happier, healthier, and more successful would be problematic.

IWD is a reminder to be cognizant of how our thoughts and actions impact women. Whatever gender you identify with, IWD is an important cause. You can make an impact by raising awareness, reflecting on your attitudes, and donating to organizations that deal with the issues previously discussed or improve other areas of women’s lives.

“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” ~Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman


[1] http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1990/dec/20/more-than-100-million-women-are-missing/

[2] http://www.internationalwomensday.com/theme.asp#.VMWh_WR4oaU

[3] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/51492/Sirimavo-RD-Bandaranaike

[4] http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm

[5] http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures


Topics: international women's day

10 Tips to Plan a Campus-wide Service Event

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 @ 10:53 AM

Every January, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day marks one of the major volunteer service events for colleges, universities, high schools, and even elementary schools across the country. This event brings hundreds of thousands of people together to serve on MLK Day. It has become a great way for students to work together in large numbers to better their surrounding communities. However, having an entire university population serve simultaneously is certainly not an easy accomplishment!

If you’re planning a campus-wide service event for the first time, have one coming up this semester, or would like to initiate one in the future, here are a 10 tips from seasoned veterans to ensure a successful and meaningful event.

1. Plan early and check the calendar. “These events require extensive planning, research, and communication,” said Misti McKeehen, director of PittServes, a university-wide initiative to help build the culture of service within the University of Pittsburgh and their surrounding community.20141018_113223_resized

In addition to their MLK Day of Service and orientation service projects, PittServes organizes the university’s annual Pitt Make A Difference Day (PMADD) every October. Last year, more than 3,200 students volunteered with approximately 115 organizations logging over 13,000 service hours in one day.

“The key is to plan early and identify a date that doesn’t conflict with other university events,” said McKeehen. “You don’t want to compete with other school activities like home football games.”

2. Choose community organizations that allow you to build a long-term partnership. When choosing organizations for your large-scale service event, consider ways the partnership can become a long-term opportunity for your students, not just a volunteer option for the day. McKeehen said it’s important to work with your community partners and encourage them to discuss ideas about why your volunteer service is vitally important.

Adam Lewandowski, associate director for the Center for Civic Engagement at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, said they also look at each partner’s ability to give an overview of their organization and what they want to do. “It’s critical to work with the community to help them have a voice,” said Lewandowski. “We view them as co-educators that help create the frame of reference. We understand each other and have shared goals to achieve through the day of service.”

Lewandowski said that 93% of the students who participated in their Orientation Day of Service are expected to volunteer again with one of their partner organizations, many of which offer work-study or service-learning programs.

3. Ensure service projects are meaningful and safe. It’s imperative that all community partners are fully aware of and agree to specific arrangements and commitments regarding providing meaningful activities in a safe environment. Partners should be able to share with the students why their service work is vital to their organization.

“There needs to be a connection of the proposed project with the mission of the organization,” said Lewandowski. “We ask our partners to craft a project and then we work closely with them to make sure to provide service activities that are helpful.”

For example, one of their partners provides horseback rides to developmentally disabled children. Their project involved clearing trails so that companions could walk along side the children riding the horses. “Students had a better understanding of the service opportunity and its impact once it was explained. They weren’t just there to clear weeds and bushes, but to help the children feel more secure while riding the horses.”

4. Get your students involved as early as possible. “It’s important to know how to recruit volunteers, Shaprsburgidentify good projects, and how to retain volunteers,” said McKeehen. “Event organizers need to know how to talk about community service to students and partners.”

“Our upperclassmen students serve as orientation leaders,” said Lewandowski. “They receive specific training to facilitate projects, as well as the guided reflection at the end of events. The student leaders coordinate the work at each site. It’s fantastic to have peer leadership. New students can relate to them and they can reflect on their impact and how to move forward from their experience.”

5. Communication is key. “Team leaders should call on partners throughout the planning process and the days leading up to the event to make sure everything is in order and that the organizations are ready for the volunteers,” said McKeehen.

You don’t want to show up with a bus filled with volunteers and no one at the organization is ready for them – or worse, not even there!

In addition, don’t forget to send out updates and reminders to your volunteers. Take advantage of social media sites to reach and recruit students. Send text alerts regarding start times or any last minute details.

6. Have a face-to-face and visit the site prior to the event to determine any special needs or 15042682762_4e91db0944_orequirements. “It’s of great value to travel into the community and meet with the organizers,” said Lewandowski. “Look at their space and the tools available.”

For example, if students are going to work outside around plants, trees, gardens, etc., make sure they have the proper tools and know to wear appropriate attire to avoid any potential mishaps like coming in contact with poison ivy!

7. Don’t forget transportation. If your budget allows, consider renting school buses or use partner sites within walking distance of your school. Lewandowski recommends doing the research to find a reliable transportation company. “Moving 550 people to 25 sites can get crazy,” he said.

8. Have clear guidelines, but remember to be flexible. Large-scale events make it somewhat difficult for individual students to actually choose their volunteer sites, but you could consider letting them request particular types of service. “When we have groups of students from sororities, clubs, etc., sign up, they are usually allowed to volunteer together at specific locations,” said McKeehen.

9. Always have a back-up plan. “Something always comes up,” said McKeehen. What happens if the buses don’t show up? What do you do if your students arrive at a site and no one is there? What’s the plan if it’s raining and your site is outside? Have a contingency plan and make sure your team knows what to do.

10. Remember to say, “Thank You,” to your partners and your volunteers! In addition, ask them for their feedback so you can make improvements for the next event!

Have you organized a school-wide service event? Tell us about your day of service activities and share your top planning tips with us! Need help managing your service program? Learn how NobleHour helps build, manage, & measure community engagement


Photos courtesy of University of Pittsburgh and Nazareth College




Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. through Service

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 @ 01:14 PM

How will you be spending your holiday on January 19th? Will you be sleeping in, grateful for the shortened week to come? Watch another season of your latest Netflix obsession? Catch up on work or studying? Will you be treating it like any other long weekend? Or, will you join the thousands of people who will use this day to create stronger communities through service?

What is MLK Day? Why is it important?

The_time_is_always_right_to_do_what_isIn 1983, Congress signed legislation that created Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday in January. In honour of Dr. King’s vision for equality and justice through community efforts, MLK Day is the only federal holiday that is designated as a day of service. People from all walks of life are encouraged to improve the lives of those in their communities by taking a pause from their regular schedule to take action against pressing issues, such as civil rights, education, the environment, health, hunger, and poverty.

We can learn from Dr. King’s life by modeling his dedication to solving social issues through nonviolent community collaboration. It’s “A Day On, Not a Day Off” where we can explore our ability to make positive change through service. The hope is that this celebration will illustrate that those who volunteer can exercise tremendous influence in our communities.

Who will serve?

Anyone and everyone are encouraged to volunteer on MLK Day. It is important that both non-profits and businesses in the community collaborate. Non-profits can organize special service events to bring people together around a specific social cause. Businesses can help by sponsoring similar volunteer events or giving their employees time off for service. Both non-profit and for-profit organizations are key to the success of MLK Day.

How can you share your service?

Not only is it important to serve on MLK Day, it is also important to make your service visible to others in your community. Today it is easier than ever to promote service through social media.

Before MLK Day, share and invite people to volunteer with you through social media and by speaking with your friends, colleagues, and students. Organizations can also join the MLK Day Service network to connect with community members and access resources to help raise awareness and gain funds. Serving as a family can also help form a tradition of service and reinforce community values.

After your day of service, be sure to use social media to share how you volunteered. MLK Day is a chance to replace a lazy Monday off with meaningful action; we can replace one social media post or photo about ourselves with something we can do for others. With service also comes advocacy, and sharing your experiences and actions can help others become involved.

America’s Sunday Supper

A unique way of getting involved with MLK Day is to host a Sunday Supper. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream for bringing together people of different backgrounds in order to foster unity within communities, Sunday Suppers are a chance for people to come together and share a meal while discussing issues within their community.

Hosting these events is not very difficult. You or your organization will need to advertise your event and plan a discussion. If you are looking for funds, you could ask guests for donations, speak with local businesses such as grocery stores about donating food, or make the Sunday Supper simpler by simply having light refreshments and snacks. You might also want to use this event to collect material or monetary donations for your topic of discussion. For example, if you plan to discuss hunger, then ask guests to bring canned food donations.

Alternatively, you could incorporate a plan of action into your discussion. After discussing the important facts and causes of an issue, you could move the discussion into possible solutions and come up with a service project at a future date. Another option might be to plan a service project directly after the discussion.

When I was involved in hosting Sunday Suppers in the past, the program encouraged organizers to begin the meal with a film or documentary related to an issue and then end with a discussion about the issue afterwards. We hosted a Sunday Supper about health and obesity by showing the film The Weight of the Nation and a second event about violence featuring The Interrupters.

This year, documentaries about social issues are not available on the American Sunday Suppers event page, so getting appropriate films and the permission to show them may be more difficult. However, this shows how the idea of the Sunday Supper is versatile and adaptable. A Sunday Supper does not have to take place on Sunday nor does it have to be in the evening, but it is a chance to make the MLK weekend a dialogue about pressing issues in our community.

Get Involved

I hope that you will find some way to spend your MLK Day off by serving others. Volunteering is a special way to honour Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by continuing a tradition of service, as well as a way of honouring your community by giving back to those in need. Search for local MLK Day of Service events here on NobleHour and use the comments section to share how you plan to serve.








10 Simple New Year's Resolutions to Make A Difference in Your Community

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 @ 01:13 PM

New Year’s Resolutions shouldn’t be so hard that we give up on them before the end of the month. As I likenh_fb_newyears to tell my kids, bigger isn’t always better and sometimes less is more. In addition, in this day and age, I don’t think resolutions should just be about self-improvement, but about how we can help others while improving ourselves. Here are 10 simple resolutions that everyone can do throughout 2015 to feel better and make a difference in their community.

  1. Make an effort to perform a random act of kindness every week. Say hello to your neighbor. Offer a seat to someone standing on the subway. Wait 10 seconds before you lean on the car horn to let the car in front of you know that the light has changed! Let the person with two items go ahead of you in line at the grocery store. Yes, I know, these don’t seem like major things, but just think how you would feel if you were on the receiving end. 

  2. Bring good manners back in 2015! Start simple. Remember a time when we would say, “Excuse me?” when trying to politely get someone’s attention or when we bumped into someone? Manners go a long way, but unfortunately it seems we aren’t using them or passing them onto our youth anymore. Teach your kids manners through example. Forget all the new words added to the dictionary this year. Let’s make some old ones popular again. Make a resolution to add these words to your vocabulary: please, thank you and you’re welcome. Don’t hoard them for your closest friends and family. Share them liberally with everyone you interact with, especially those in retail, customer service, and public service. They need them the most! You’ll be surprised how a few kind words can make a difference in someone’s day.


  3. Whenever you notice your pantry is overflowing with too many cans and boxes of food or you can’t fit one more jacket in your coat closet, this is your cue to get a bag and donate extra non-perishable food and gently used clothing. Find your local food pantry or check with a local church for donation locations.

  4. Think about something that’s important to you and find a way to volunteer or donate to the cause. Sometimes, the commitment to volunteer a specific number of days or hours concerns people and may prevent them from helping. Decide what you can commit to do. Whether it’s once a week, once a month, or even a one-time event, you decide. Volunteering should make you feel good, not bad because you can’t do it all the time. There are opportunities everywhere in many forms. Take time to do the research and think about how you can use your talents to help others.

  5. Practice Patience – This is probably one of the most difficult resolutions since our world has become one where we want results immediately. However, if we all practiced just a little patience, we might not lose our tempers so quickly. And, if we couple patience with our small acts of kindness, just imagine how the world would truly be a nicer place.

  6. Write a letter or send a card to an old friend, someone going through a tough time or maybe an aunt, uncle, or grandparent living alone. Yes, I said, "write!" I didn't say text, Facebook message, or e-mail. Sit down with pen and paper and write about what’s going on in your life, share happy memories, and wish them the best. I don’t do this as often as I should, but I actually feel really good after writing a long letter to a friend or relative. I also absolutely love getting those letters in the mail too! Plus, you could also help extend the life of cursive writing!


  7. Explore new technology. For some, that’s really easy. For others, technology can be a little scary. Watch kids with iPads, smartphones, etc., and they have no fear when trying new apps or features. But for someone who has lost entire documents in the past, I’m always a little anxious of where each double tap will take me. I've found that, when given the chance, technology can make your life a lot easier. 

  8. Listen more than you talk – especially with your kids. This may be difficult if your kids are like mine and don’t necessarily like to talk, but this is where listening is crucial. When they finally do decide to open up, just let them take the lead and enjoy the fact that they do want to talk to you!

  9. Save some energy. We can all do a better job on this one. Turn off the lights as you leave the room. Don’t let the faucet run when you brush your teeth, put on a sweater and lower the heat, and leave the car at home and walk to your destination for quick trips. Getting out and walking through your neighborhood will also give you the opportunity to greet and get to know your neighbors!

  10. Help your community as a family. It can be something as simple as making sandwiches and small care packages for the homeless, checking in on or visiting with elderly neighbors, or shoveling sidewalks for those that can’t do it. You could even host your own neighborhood food drive, volunteer at a food pantry or help clean up a local park. Ask your children how they want to make a difference in the world and figure out a way to do it together.

Happy New Year! Thank you for reading our articles and being a part of the NobleHour community. May 2015 bring you much happiness, good health, and many opportunities to make a difference in your community!

Topics: Food Banks, volunteering, community service, community, random acts of kindness, Family, food drive, New Year's Resolutions, Good Manners

Online Retailers that Give Back to Charity

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 @ 12:49 AM

The commercial aspects of the holidays can sometimes cause us to question the spirit of giving, thanks, and compassion.  Check out these websites that give back a percentage of your purchase to charity.

PerkleGive a gift that benefits a local organization.

Perkle is a new platform that allows you to donate to various social causes while shopping from some of your favorite retailers. Donating though Perkle is just like online shopping. Many of the things you already buy online can be bought through Perkle, and a portion of the money is donated to a cause of your choice.

 “Lets make giving into an everyday action instead of a rare transaction” - Perkle.org

Many major online retailers are on Perkle, including Amazon, Expedia, Fandango, and Office Depot. For Perkle to donate part of your purchase, you have to go to the merchant’s website through a link from Perkle. There is no extra cost to shop through Perkle. 

A list of all the causes fundraising through Perkle is available on their website, and if you are interested in adding your own cause, you can easily create one.  Perkle reviews each application to ensure each cause meets its standards. Each cause must “accomplish something good for a person, group of people or society.” There is no cost for nonprofit organizations or consumers to use Perkle. There are only the benefits of turning everyday purchases into social good.


AmazonSmile sells all of the same products as Amazon.com, but 0.5% of your purchase is donated to charity. You can use your regular Amazon.com account to shop through AmazonSmile. When you shop through AmazonSmile, you can view everything available on Amazon.com, but the product description will specify whether it is eligible for donation through AmazonSmile.  

More than a million charities and non-profits are on AmazonSmile. When you log into Amazon Smile, a list of possible charities will appear, and you are asked to select one. However, you can change the organization to which you are donating at any time. Organizations can register to receive money from AmazonSmile by applying online and submitting information to prove the organization is legitimate. Registration is free. 

Shop With Meaning

Some online retailers give back to charities and non-profits.

Shop With Meaning is a website where you can find products made to raise funds for a particular cause. Shop With Meaning aims to be transparent, allowing consumers to know exactly how their purchase will create social good.  Information about the organizations is readily available so consumers can make cognizant choices about what they are buying. In some cases, a portion of the sales is donated. Some of the social causes supported by Shop With Meaning include providing clean water, combating human trafficking, and fighting poverty. 

Shop With Meaning also offers a "one for one" program, in which a company promises to donate one item for each purchased.  For example, if you buy a pair of shoes from a company participating in the “one for one” program on Shop With Meaning, another pair of shoes is donated to someone in need.  Details about who is benefiting these donations depend on the product, but the information is readily available. 

Chosing the Best Gift for Social Good

Unlike Perkle, the products on Shop With Meaning are not exclusively from mainstream retailers. Most of the products are from non-profits hoping to raise money from the sale of their products. However, the percentage of money donated from Shop With Meaning is generally greater than on Perkle.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  On Perkle, consumers can make donations simply by buying things they already would, while on Shop for Meaning one would most likely need to do a little more research to find what you are looking for. Both are terrific ways to make consumerism a little more meaningful.  

AmazonSmile seems to be a miniature version of Perkle, and the differences between Shop With Meaning and AmazonSmile are the same as those with Perkle. However, the impact of shopping with these two organizations is quite different. Perkle provides access to a variety of retailers while AmazonSmile is focused on one retailer. In addition, the average donation when shopping on Amazon.com through Perkle is 4.8%, which is a much higher percentage than the 0.5% that is donated through AmazonSmile. In order to make the same donation on AmazonSmile as Perkle, you would have to spend almost 10 times more. For example, to make a $5 donation on Perkle by shopping through the Amazon link, you have to spend approximately $104. To make the same donation by shopping through AmazonSmile, you would have to spend $1000. On AmazonSmile, the retailer benefits much more than the charity.

All three of these websites provide ways to give back while shopping. However, it’s important to remember that we cannot replace giving with consuming. While it’s a great idea to make your everyday purchases into a charitable event, keep in mind that the organizations are only receiving a fraction of your money. If you end up spending more money through these retailers in the name of charity, you should consider volunteering or donating your money  directly to the charity instead.

We hope you will check out some of these websites as you are shopping during the holiday season.  Making meaningful gifts for social good can become part of your regular spending routine. Share your experiences with us in the comments below!

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