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Student Group Works To Spread 'Love,' Awareness With Scarf Drive

Oct. 10, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Marissa Nunez

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(From the left) Xochilt Endsley, Jada LaRue, Eliza Harris, Tionnah Woods and Sheridan Labbè, as well as other members of SHSU's Black Student Alliance, are collecting scarves this month for a drive that will benefit breast cancer patients being treated at the University Cancer Center in Huntsville. —Photo by Brian Blalock

 

The invasive nature of breast cancer relentlessly wreaks havoc on the many lives it affects, and the fight against it isn’t any easier. It is a long and tiring battle eroding away the patient’s strength with each doctor visit, chemotherapy session and surgery.

In an effort to give back that strength, Sam Houston State University’s Black Student Alliance has teamed up with the University Cancer Center and local businesses and organizations to establish the community-wide Knots of Love Scarf Drive, taking place this month.

“I thought that it would be great to give back to the city that I have called home for the last three years and uplift women in Huntsville during their battle with cancer,” said BSA vice president Eliza Harris, a senior history major.

The idea for the project came to her after she won the title of 10th annual “Lady Dubois of the Exceptional Men of the Talented Tenth” and moved on to be a part of the Miss Black Texas pageant, where the reigning queen, Dymond Hayes, had been participating in scarf drives throughout the state.

Harris’s platform, Growing Roots of Wealth, focuses on uplifting and enriching all levels of a person’s well being, from their mental and physical health all the way to their emotional and spiritual health.

“I want the women who have been afflicted by breast cancer to know that their community is backing them up,” Harris said. “I want them to feel loved throughout their journey.”

Breast cancer is the leading form of cancer among women in the United States. In 2013 alone, it is estimated that 232,340 new cases will be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society.

As with Hayes, Harris, too, has a passion for spreading awareness about a disease that affects one out of every eight women in the U.S.

After a family member was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer, it became personal for Harris, and she soon realized that a scarf drive was something the Huntsville community needed.

"I believe because of all of the support of the scarf drive that people strongly feel that not only is this a terrible disease, but that it is important to show love and support to women who have breast cancer."

—Eliza Harris

“Cancer awareness became something I have slowly grown to be more passionate about,” said Harris. “Certainly after my aunt’s diagnosis, I became more curious and empathetic to those whose lives have completely changed because of cancer.”

Senior marketing major and BSA president Sheridan Labbè’s life was also changed by cancer when her grandmother, Helen “MeMe” Dobbins, a 10-year breast cancer survivor, passed away in 2009 after battling the disease for a second time.

“This project means a lot to me because I believe that we should take care of ourselves, because our bodies impact us more than we know,” said Labbè. “We sometimes forget as a community to uplift those who are afflicted with sickness.”

Aside from spreading awareness, Harris said the other goal of the drive is to help raise funds for the University Cancer Center to help patients who are struggling to pay for their treatments, which can range from different prices depending on the form of treatment the patient and the physician choose to use.

“The goal is to reach $500 and at least 200 scarves, but I definitely think we can raise a lot more,” said Harris, who will be selling T-shirts with a list of sponsors on the back for $7 all month on campus.

So far, The Forum, Five Loaves Deli, Chooselife, Residence Life, Excalibur Steel and Fabrication, FANTASTIC Design, Bearkat K.R.E.W, Pi Sigma Alpha, SH Gammas, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Sigma Kappa Omega Sorority, and the Theta Epsilon chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., have all committed to the drive by either donating money or providing donation boxes at their meetings or place of business.

“I believe because of all of the support of the scarf drive that people strongly feel that not only is this a terrible disease, but that it is important to show love and support to women who have breast cancer,” Harris said.

New and used scarves can be donated at the Forum office, Five Loaves Deli, the University Health Center, and Newton-Gresham Library, or at any Bearkat K.R.E.W, African Student Association or Beautiful Alliance meetings.

For Labbè, the drive is more than just about raising money for the patients.

“Monetary donations are not always enough when you can provide those in need with something more tangible that can help them cope,” said Labbè. “The idea behind the scarf drive is to give women who have lost their hair because of chemotherapy treatments a fashionable alternative to regular hats.”

While October is breast cancer awareness month, Harris’s and the BSA’s work is hardly done.

In November, they will be hosting an event dedicated to the prevention of breast cancer by teaching students, faculty and staff how to conduct breast exams, spot symptoms and warning signs of possible breast cancer, and how to stay healthy, in general.

They will also be presenting the scarves and proceeds to the UCC and awards to all the sponsors for their hard work and dedication to their cause.

The BSA will also be hosting their annual “Hot Bods” date auction event, which is designed to promote people’s confidence in their own skin.

In February, the group will participate in KSBJ Radio’s “Love that Sticks” movement, where people write inspiring words on Post-it Notes and stick them in random places throughout campus.

While this is just the first year of Knots of Love, based on the huge response of multiple businesses, organizations and people urging to get involved, it is something Labbè and Harris hope will turn into an annual BSA event.

“I hope BSA does continue to make Knots of Love an annual event after Eliza and I graduate,” Labbè said. “It definitely has the potential to be a huge event in our community in the years to come.”

 

 

 

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