Getting crafty with Leslie Cothren

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of Leslie Cothren

Jacob Jardel
Assistant Managing Editor
@JJardel_Writing

While many service endeavors take the students to a project, Student Activities Specialist Leslie Cothren brings the project to the students.

Usually stationed at a food courtside table inside the MCC, Cothren manages the “Get Crafty with Your Service” events. According to Cothren, these events provide an easy way for students to give back.

“It is an opportunity for students to come and do a service project of some sort,” she said. “It can be anything from making a dog toy to writing a thank you note to making a paper crane. They are then donated to agencies that use that.”

This brief form of service provides a different perspective from which students can view the act of service. Cothren brings this mindset to the table at the Get Crafty events.

“It’s a great way for students to spend a little bit of time yet give back,” she said. “It doesn’t take two hours; it doesn’t take four hours – they can stop by for five or ten minutes if that’s all they have.”

Cothren said this approach makes it easier for students to give what time and efforts they have to make an impact, so a wide range of students participate.

“I like it that it’s a different set of students,” Cothren said, “and we’re showing them a different opportunity.”

Get Crafty began a year before Cothren started working at Cameron. Since she took over, the event has featured multiple service opportunities, including making shopping bags out of t-shirts for the local food bank, writing holiday cards for soldiers and making paper cranes for cancer patients.

One of her personal favorites, though, was donating rice to the World Food Organization by way of an online grammar quiz. This venture put service in a new perspective not only for her but also for the students involved.

“I really liked the free rice because I didn’t realize there was so much you could do online in a service way,” Cothren said. “I think students learned that, and I’d like to think they then went on their own downtime and did something. It didn’t take a whole lot for them – just their knowledge.”

Regardless of the method, all the events had one thing in common: taking the projects from the table and giving them to the public.

“Very rarely do we do something with Get Crafty with Your Service that stays on campus,” Cothren said. “We take it to an outside organization, a local school or somewhere that’s not on campus to make that connection.

“I think that helps us to realize there’s more that happens outside our walls,” she said.

To Cothren, reaching out is just a portion of the benefits of Get Crafty.

“It’s also showing students there’s lots of different ways to serve,” she said. “It’s not just about going and cleaning up the side of the highway. That’s really important, too. There are lots of different things you can do that are service.”

Through the Get Crafty activities, Cothren has seen students discover the joy of serving in unique ways. To her, these crafts allows students the opportunity to try new things that they otherwise would not try.

“That doesn’t happen all the time,” she said, “when you see people outside of what you would perceive them to do or what they would comfortable doing, and they love it and have a good time. I love to give them a different opportunity to do something that you might not expect.”

Cothren recently branched out to campus clubs and organizations that want to do quick crafty service, hoping to see these opportunities flourish in subsequent iterations. She also wants to grow the event into a series of increasingly lengthier projects.

As of now, though, resources and ideas are not on the table for her, but she is continuing to look for new ideas from online, as well as interpersonal sources.

“I do a lot of Googling,” Cothren said, “a lot of Pinteresting to see what’s out there and what options are available. I’m always up for new ideas … I would love suggestions. They [students] could email me or stop by, and I’d be happy to take them.”

Regardless of whether students provide suggestions, Cothren urges people to come sit with her and bring their crafty talents to the table in the name of service.

“Come try it out,” she said. “Sometimes it might be something you enjoy doing. It might not, but we’re doing something totally different next month, so come try it out then.”

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