Despite the rain and cold weather that plagued Keene, New Hampshire on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, students from Keene State College kept their spirits up while they worked to fix the negative image of the college that was set by the riots surrounding this year’s Pumpkin Fest.
The event, called KSC Gives Back, took place at Central Square in Downtown Keene.
From noon until 2 p.m., about 100 students showed up to offer their support and help give back to the community.
Sophia Hart, a senior at KSC, explained that the idea came about in a communications class offered at the school called “Persuasion.”
“This is our collaborative end of the semester project,” Hart explained, “We did it because we were learning a lot about media and communication through media.”
According to Hart, the class hadn’t planned on hosting the event until after Pumpkin Fest happened.
Hart said, “We wanted to give back to the community in response to all of the negative stigma that surrounded the school [after Pumpkin Fest]. We wanted to create an event to show that we really do respect the town and we really do want to rebuild the community that we live in.”
Hart said the KSC Gives Back event was inspired by “Culture Jam,” which is the idea of taking a negative stigma and turning it into something positive.
Over the course of the two-hour long event, students went in groups, bearing gifts to local businesses up and down Main Street.
“We have a lot of people going around bringing coffee and treats to local businesses and we’re going to the police station, fire department and town hall to give back to them. We’re also going to The Red Cross, Planet Aid and the Community Kitchen to bring donated items to them as well,” Hart said, outlining the event.
Emily Silegy, a junior at KSC, said the group was working to “rebrand” the image of KSC.
“We used the RIOT acronym [Respectful Intelligent Owls Together] and we’re hosting this event to repaint the image of our school,” Silegy explained. “Our class, as well as a lot of other people, are all on board.”
Silegy, who is a Keene native, noted how the community reacted to the aftermath of the riots.
“I’ve seen a lot of negative stuff from the community and how they feel,” Silegy said.
Silegy continued, “I think this event is a really great way to show that we care. Going around to local businesses shows that we do care, and that’s exactly the image we want to project of our school.”
For KSC Senior Logan Bernard, KSC Gives Back was all about students showing how much they’re involved with the town.
“We want to come here and show the town that we do care — show them that Keene State [College] isn’t just a bunch of disrespectful kids,” Bernard said.
Bernard continued, “We’re going to the food kitchen to offer baked goods and coffee, and to donate things like non-perishable food items and donated clothing. We’re doing civil duties, too. We were just walking some people in the rain with umbrellas, just trying to do whatever we can to help out the town,” Bernard said.
“We wanted to bring everybody together to bring back the community,” Christopher Haughey said.
Like Hart, Silegy and Bernard, Haughey is also enrolled in the Persuasion class.
Haughey explained, “We want everyone to be together on the same page, and to let the town know that the school is working with them as well.”
Haughey said he wanted to see what KSC students could do as a collective group to say thanks.
“[The stigma of Pumpkin Fest] doesn’t look good on me, doesn’t look good on our school, doesn’t look good on anybody,” Haughey said. “We just want to bring everyone back together, put everyone on the same page, and for everyone to be happy,” he said.
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org