Baylor School of Education’s master’s program in Sport Management has launched a project to help homeless veterans in Texas and set a Guinness World Record at the same time. And they need help from the Baylor family and beyond.
Operation Warmth for Warriors has set a goal of providing 1,000 sleeping bags for homeless Texas veterans. Organizers have a bulk source for quality bags for $20 each. To reach their goal, they need to raise $20,000, and contributions can be made at this Baylor page:
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, quoted in the Texas Tribune earlier this year, Texas has about 2,000 homeless veterans. Texas and California have the largest veteran populations in the nation.
Dr. Mar Magnusen, associate professor of sport management in the Department of Educational Leadership, said the sleeping bag project will not only help veterans unable to find housing, but the distribution through veterans’ service providers will create a connection point for future services to veterans.
“We really want to help them get off the streets, especially in winter, and the distribution process can build a relationship between the organizations and the veterans,” Magnusen said. “The connections can help veterans transition to a new and bright phase of their service.”
By collecting 1,000 sleeping bags, the Baylor project will set a Guinness World Record, bringing even more attention to an important issue, Magnusen said. Plans call for a July 4 event at McLane Stadium where the record for lined-up sleeping bags will be achieved.
Magnusen is joined by sport management student Sam Esparza, a graduate assistant at McLane Stadium, in organizing the project. They are partnering on campus with Baylor VETS, led by program manager Kevin Davis. Community partner is Veterans One Stop, a support organization in Waco that will act as the distribution point for the sleeping bags statewide through organizations serving veterans.
The idea of a significant philanthropic project was ignited in a course that Magnusen teaches — Athletic Fundraising and Development. Students in the course learn fundraising basics including data collection and management, finding and asking donors, building coalitions and partnerships, and other aspects of projects as large as capital campaigns for sports arenas. Students plan and execute their own project, but the time restraints of a semester mean those are limited in scope. Still, over a few years, students in the class have collected more than 1,000 toys for the Toys for Tots Christmas project and recently conducted a successful coat drive for children served by Child Protective Services.
“The veterans project idea grew out of conversations in class,” Magnusen said. When he shared his dreams of breaking a Guinness record, it turned out that student Sam Esparza had similar dreams of breaking a world record with an event at McLane Stadium. It didn’t take long for the group to research world records they considered attainable and find a worthy cause.
“Sam was willing to step up and get others involved,” Magnusen said. “With a longer time frame, you can build a coalition of interested stakeholders, and something great can happen from that coalition. That is something that’s taught in the course.”
Magnusen said that many of the 50 students enrolled in the MSEd in Sport Management, a two-year program, have stepped up eagerly to help. “Our students are very proactive and willing,” he said. “We only have to ask, and sport management students volunteer to participate.”
For more than 100 years, the School of Education has advanced Baylor’s mission across the globe while preparing students for a range of careers focused on education, leadership, and human development. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation. Likewise, the School of Education’s graduate programs have attained national recognition for their exemplary preparation of research scholars, educational leaders, innovators, and clinicians. Visit www.baylor.edu/SOE to learn more.
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.