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College for Liberal Arts Students Develop Friendships While Giving Back

FLARE, the College of Liberal Arts’ freshman leadership organization, exemplifies Aggie core values through volunteer and community work.

By: Mia Mercer ‘23

Photo of FLARE members at food bank.

FLARE is an organization that helps freshmen in the College of Liberal Arts give back to their community and find their place in Aggieland.

A little under 20 percent of the Brazos Valley is food insecure, meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. And sophomore political science major Bailee Jackson ’23 is doing something about it.

Jackson is one of 55 members in Freshmen in Liberal Arts Reaching Excellence (FLARE), a freshman leadership organization (FLO) in the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. Since it was founded in 2008, FLARE has allowed incoming Aggies the opportunity to give back to Bryan-College Station and develop a sense of home in Aggieland. 

“I love this town and I want to do something for the people who live in and out of  Bryan-College Station,” Jackson said. “With FLARE, it’s easy to organize service projects, so why not use every opportunity to lend a helping hand?”

FLARE is one of the newest FLOs at Texas A&M. Members are divided into five different committees, including one for community outreach which focuses on service projects.  

“We take pride in teaching our freshman how to lead,” Jackson said. “We enable our freshmen to define their own service events and decide what’s important. They determine the best way to serve their community, and then they develop leadership skills while doing it.”

Photo of FLARE service projects.

Along with the Brazos Valley Food Bank, FLARE participates in multiple other service events throughout the year. Through these projects, FLARE hopes to instill in their freshmen a passion to help the BCS community and those around it.

The community outreach committee is led by two co-chairs: Jackson and sophomore psychology major Sophia Doran ’23. Together they find and coordinate volunteer opportunities for FLARE. This year, they’ve chosen to help the Brazos Valley Food Bank, which distributes food to food-insecure families and children. The pandemic has made the food bank more important than ever, as closing schools meant many children went without a source of breakfast or lunch.

“We wanted to help make up for that by filling crates of food for families,” Doran said. “We also collected food donations to give back to the food bank. By the end of this semester, FLARE created a little over 1,000 crates and boxes of food for families in need.”

In addition to helping the food bank, FLARE members read to children in Fonwood Elementary School in Houston through video chat. As the semester draws to a close, FLARE is writing to professors to let them know how appreciated their hard work is while also helping with Salvation Army’s Angel Tree toy drive.

“Service is an important part of life,” Doran said. “FLARE not only helps the community and the university through these service projects, but it also fosters the growth of love and passion for service in our freshmen.”