By Bill Studenc
The month of February is just around the corner, and members of the Western Carolina University community know that will mean more than Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day and the ramping up of election primaries.
February also brings “I Love WCU Month,” a time for the WCU family to express affection for the institution and to participate in community service activities to benefit worthy causes.
A highlight of this year’s eighth annual edition of “I Love WCU Month” is the “Cats Give Back” service weekend, returning for a second year after debuting in 2023 and set for Friday, Feb. 16, through Sunday, Feb. 18.
Catamounts both past and present and near and far are organizing community service activities designed not to benefit the university, but to lend a helping hand to nonprofit organizations and those in need.
Service activities already on the books range from a Charlotte-based effort to sort and pack shoes for distribution to children in need to assisting at food banks in the Raleigh-Durham and Statesville areas. Planned events closer to home in Jackson County will include visits to a local assisted living facility for activities with residents and a trail maintenance project in the U.S. Forest Service’s Panthertown Valley.
“I Love WCU Month” also will include a student kick-off event from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, in the conference room of Blue Ridge Residence Hall on campus in Cullowhee.
Sponsored by the WCU Office of Alumni Engagement in conjunction with a variety of campus partners, the event will feature free pizza, prizes, information booths, photographs with Paws the mascot and the opportunity to record video messages to be shared on social media.
Students who show their love for WCU by making a philanthropic gift to the university at the event or anytime during February will become members of the 1889 Club. Named in recognition of the year of the university’s founding, the giving society recognizes donors for gifts made to the Fund for WCU on an annual basis. Students can join the society for contributions as small as $18.89 a year.
Student members of the 1889 Club are invited to take part in a senior toast before commencement and receive special philanthropy cords to wear at the graduation ceremony.
University employees who make a philanthropic gift during “I Love WCU Month” will become members of the Shetland Society, which acknowledges faculty and staff contributions made to WCU on an annual basis. The giving society is named for the Shetland ponies that then-Chancellor A.C. Reynolds purchased in 1912 to haul supplies by cart back and forth from Sylva to campus
For more information about “I Love WCU Month” activities and to register for the “Cats Give Back” weekend of service, visit give.wcu.edu/Ilovewcu.