"How Can I Help My Neighbor?" Wins Prestigious Ebeling Award

May 20, 2021

A group of Bradley University public relations students are doing their part to help the area's homeless population. The students recently teamed with Jolt Harm Reduction and Crafted DIY Studio and Bar to educate local residents on how to make local change.

Through in-depth conversations with Jolt, the students found Peoria-area residents believe the local homeless population needs help and many individuals have the desire to do so. However, those generous hearts seem to get lost in the process or don't know how to properly help. For instance, some people try donating clothes directly to the local homeless population, but nonprofits discourage this.

"When you drop off a pile of clothing that not everyone can use, you create a perfect nest for pests that actually make it really dangerous to live there," explained student Sophia Vojta. Instead, this group of Bradley students is encouraging those who are interested in donating to drop off their items at proper locations. This, among other useful tips, is what motivated them to launch a campaign called "How Can I Help My Neighbor?"

The campaign centered on the creation of a website that can be used by the general public for years to come. The group also hosted a COVID-friendly, in-person event April 22 at Crafted DIY. This educational opportunity helped raise money for Jolt. For each DIY project, 20% of the proceeds were donated as well as 50 cents per drink purchased.

The overall campaign enlightened those who participated and used the website, but it also opened the eyes of the students involved. "Jolt especially reminded us of all of the difficulties that come with homelessness and how very easy it is to become homeless," shared Katie Magree. "All you have to do is lose that job."

For their efforts, the team earned the Spring 2021 Ebeling PR-ize™. A list of the awarded students is provided below.

(Pictured in the center from L to R)

  • Katie Magree -- Hometown: Batavia, IL
  • Grace Darling -- Hometown: Houston, TX
  • Sophia Vojta -- Hometown: Chillicothe, IL

Created by Bradley alumnus Chuck Ebeling and faculty member Ron Koperski in 2004, the Ebeling PR-ize™ is a competitive program among Bradley’s senior public relations students in their capstone course. Students form agency teams and are responsible for planning and implementing a real, coordinated public relations campaign on behalf of a local business and a compatible community service organization. Campaign submissions and judging criteria are based on the nationally recognized Silver Anvil Award competition administered by the Public Relations Society of America.