Students Give Back for the Holidays

by Jessica Patterson

December 16, 2016

Rio Grande, Ohio – The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College work to encourage students to give back to their communities. The LGBTQ and A group on campus put this idea into action by donating items to the Serenity House in Gallipolis. President of the organization, Kayla Buttrey, said they have been looking for ways to help those in need in the local community.


“We wanted to find a local organization to give back to in some way and, as a student group, a lot of people ask us what we do to help our community,” Buttrey said. “When we were trying to decide on an organization, we looked into issues that were important to us and women’s rights and shelter from domestic abuse was a reoccurring one.”


The Serenity House is a non-profit shelter for victims of domestic violence and homeless women and children. Buttrey said the group felt a strong connection to the organization’s mission and wanted to help them accomplish their goals.


“Finding the Serenity House in my research was really pure luck,” Buttrey said. “It’s something all of us felt incredibly passionate about because a lot of LGBTQ and A people know what it’s like to not have anywhere to go or stay. We knew people would be doing other types of drives and this was a different way to contribute and cover more areas of need in our community.”


Buttrey said she reached out to the Serenity House to see what the LGBTQ and A group could do to help, and was surprised to hear the simplest items were the ones the organization needed most.


“There is such a need everywhere for items we tend to take for granted. When we contacted the Serenity house, they said their biggest need was toiletry and hygiene items,” Buttrey said. “These people seeking help from them aren’t asking for toys or any major items, they are asking for a toothbrush or shampoo. When it’s easy for us to get these items, the little things we always have around, we don’t always realize how important they can be to someone without access to them.”


Buttrey said she hopes to continue making donations to the organization throughout the year.


“So many people donate during the Christmas season, but the need doesn’t end when the holidays are over,” Buttrey said. “People who need coats and warm clothing in the winter, may also need help getting summer clothes or school supplies. We have to keep that need in mind no matter what holiday is near.”


The LGBTQ and A group is a student group for gender and sexual minorities—students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Queer, and/or asexual. It’s also a group for allies: students who identify as straight and cisgender, but want to support the LGBTQA community. In addition to social events and student advocacy, the group also participates in community events, like Take Back the Night, and Safe Zone training. The group was founded at Rio nearly 10 years ago, and has close to 20 members. For more information, contact Benjy Davies, faculty advisor at

The Serenity House serves Gallia, Jackson and Meigs counties. Buttrey said she hopes more people will volunteer to support the non-profit organization’s cause. For more information on the Serenity House contact Executive Director Marissa Metz at 740-446-6752