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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Helping kids during winter holidays

Helping+Harvest+is+Starlight+Aggies%26%238217%3B+biggest+fundraising+event.+The+money+raisedis+donated+to+the+Ronald+McDonald+House+in+Bryan.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Photo by Dalia Muayad

Helping Harvest is Starlight Aggies’ biggest fundraising event. The money raised
is donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Bryan. 

The holiday season can be a hard time for many families, specifically families who are struggling with a pile of medical bills while their children are in the hospital.
Starlight Aggies is a pediatric service student organization at Texas A&M with the purpose of assisting children and families in need through games, activities and donations. Starlight Aggies is made up of about 100 members, but are split up into groups, called Constellations, that include 15 members or less each as a way for members to get to know each other better.
The organization frequents children hospitals with hopes to make a difference in the lives of patients, according to David Villarreal, kinesiology and neuroscience senior and president of Starlight Aggies. They act out stories, make crafts and focus on getting the children’s minds off of sitting in a hospital bed.
The largest philanthropy event for Starlight Aggies is Helping Harvest. According to Villarreal, their annual fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House is located in Bryan at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Villarreal said when the Ronald McDonald House opened up in the spring of 2016, Starlight Aggies was one of the first groups to volunteer to help.
“Ever since the Ronald McDonald House got built here in Bryan, we have partnered with them,” Villarreal said. “We help them collect donations to serve those families in need that can’t pay medical bills in order [for their kids] to stay in the hospital long-term.”
Marleini Ilanga, vice president of Starlight Aggies and biomedical sciences junior, said a donation drive was put together to help stock the Ronald McDonald House room at the hospital for its opening.
“We wanted to get donations for them while they were setting up the new room so that they would be able to start off with plenty of donations, we were still figuring out how we wanted to run this, we collected over 700 items our first year including any living necessities,” Ilanga said.
Alex Ayala, business management senior and a community outreach chair for Starlight Aggies, said she contributes to the setup of Helping Harvest. Ayala said Helping Harvest is an important event that brings about the Ronald McDonald House awareness to the community.
Helping Harvest is a big event for Starlight Aggies and Ilanga said she enjoys the impact this donation drive has made throughout the community and within the organization.
“I have grown through my ability to lead, serve and organize,” Ilanga said. “I will take these aspects with me into the real world, this philanthropy has helped strengthen my passion for families and children within the hospital setting.”
Villarreal said they have three locations set up around campus for the last five days of October and the first five days of November to collect donations for their third drive. Locations include the 12th Man Hall in the Memorial Student Center, Evans Library and in front of the John R. Blocker Building.
Donations of both household items and money will be accepted at these locations, where t-shirts will be sold as well. All proceeds go directly to the Ronald McDonald House and of the monetary donations they receive will go to purchasing toys for the kids there.

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