Putting School Lessons to Practice: The Spirit of Giving

12/17/2010 05:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Natalie Carpenter, a senior at Cal State University San Bernardino, started her shift at TGI-Friday thinking about her public relations campaigns class and how to raise money for the class' client--the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation ( The class worked on a fundraiser for the foundation in Spring 2010, but Natalie wasn't satisfied with just the one-time special event. She wanted to do something more, something bigger. She wasn't sure what that was or how to do it, but one thing she knew for sure -- her thoughts about the foundation were taking up a lot of gray matter in her head.

As she approached one of her tables, she noticed the distinctive UPS logo on the shirts of the two men sitting there and without hesitation asked, "Hey, does UPS give money to nonprofit organizations?" The two senior divisional managers were a little taken aback by the abrupt question, but totally charmed by Natalie's straightforward request. They told her to get in touch with Nathan Rawls, a South California District human resources representative. She did.

The donation request from Natalie caught Rawl's attention for two reasons. First, as the management liaison for community donations, Rawls receives requests from many organizations and individuals, but had never received one from an undergraduate student. A 2005 Liberal Studies graduate of CSUSB himself, Rawls immediately saw an opportunity to connect to his alma mater, help a young student and do something valuable for the community. Second, he read the information about the work of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation and was moved by its mission. "All it took was reading the materials to know that this organization makes an important contribution to the community,'"Rawls says. Rawls contacted Natalie and asked for a proposal. Natalie called Anne Swire, our CEO, and asked her to get involved.

Fast-forward four months--Thanks to Natalie's initiative, the employee donation team of UPS South California District approved a $15,000 donation to the foundation, bringing the grand total of money that Cal State San Bernardino public relations students raised for Andre Sobel to $27,000.


"I'm amazed that it actually happened," Natalie says. "I've been studying public relations for the past two years, but it's so much better when you can actually put concepts into practice and see how your efforts make a difference."