Christmas runs not just for reindeer

Forget the Jingle Bell Rock. Northern Kentucky University students are doing the Jingle Bell Run, a race in which all funds benefit the Arthritis foundation.

Graduate students who are going after masters in public administration were given an unusual assignment for the end of the semester by assistant professor Julie Olberding.

Olberding divided her Resource Acquisition and Management class up into groups of three and four and teamed them up with the Cincinnati chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. The foundation is hosting the Jingle Bell Run Dec. 10 to raise awareness and gain donations.

Each student group has a different job. Some try to get corporations to pay the entry fee and form a team for the run. Others research what companies are doing to garner donations for similar events, and report back with suggestions for improvement.

Maria Chisholm is team captain for the NKU faculty and staff team. Chisholm said that she’s enjoying the project so far. “It’s been a very positive experience,” she said. “It’s almost like we were improving awareness. Some people had never heard of the Jingle Bell Run. It created awareness for me.”

Chisholm said her team is working on the recruitment part of the project. They’re currently working Gold’s Gym and Curves to start teams. Chisholm also said the students will be advising the foundation. “We’ll basically be consultants for them,” she said. “We’ve looked at their Web site and will advise them on how to improve donations.”

Jason Champagne is another student involved. Champagne is part of one of the groups that analyzed the performance of other companies with fund-raising. “It’s given me a better understanding of how these events are run,” he said. “And from the NKU standpoint it’s another outreach program.”

Both students agree Olberding has been the driving and positive force behind the project. “She’s one of the best instructors in the MPA program-not to take away from any of the other instructors, but she’s so creative,” Chisholm said. “She makes the textbook come to life.” Champagne said that she’s very enthusiastic about the project, and that “It’s really helped the whole class.”

Jennifer Yapp works for the Cincinnati chapter of the foundation and had only good things to say about Olberding and the students involved. “I just checked our registration online and we have 18 teams so far,” she said. “Last year at this point we only had 10 or 12.” Yapp said that Olberding and the students have all been great to work with.

Chisholm, though, feels that this is more than just work-it’s a labor of love. “To know that you’re making a difference-(the Arthritis foundation) will have more participation because our class took them on as a project,” she said. “It’s a good feeling at the end of the day.”