KSU professor uses Facebook for charity

Jennifer Shore

Facebook Charity

Donations raise for Make-A-Wish, ASPCA

Donations raise for Make-A-Wish, ASPCA

The majority of professors prefer to keep social networking and students separated, but the quick-witted, Ray Ban-wearing professor Matthew Shank is famous for “friending” his students and, notably, using Facebook for charitable causes.

“He’s asking for participation and raising awareness at the same time at no cost to anybody,” said senior English major Brent Miller. “It takes, at most, five to 10 seconds to participate in whatever scheme he has planned on Facebook.”

During certain holidays or points in the semester, Shank uses his status to broadcast a message to inform his “friends” that if they write on his wall, he will donate a dollar to a charity. Before spring break, Shank updated his status, which notified his students that wishing him a “Happy Spring Break” would spur a dollar donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation. He said he raised approximately $180 before spring break, but he also has donated hundreds of dollars for Happy birthday’s, Happy New Year’s, Happy Valentine’s day’s and happy wishes for other times over the past few years.

“I think it’s an inspiring thing to do,” said senior English major Gabz Ciofani. “(Facebook) can be a place to fuel causes and to make a difference.”

Shank said he mainly donates money to Make-A-Wish and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“You can’t go wrong with kids and dogs,” Shank said. “There are so many different charities that you can give to, but I gravitate toward the ones that can’t help themselves.”

On a daily basis, Shank wears four rubber bracelets and an assortment of pins to support Make-A-Wish, ASPCA and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. In the past, Shank has also bought bracelets to hand out to his students.

“I just throw them out in classes,” Shank said. “It’s just another way to spread the word.”

Amanda Kis, senior human development and family studies major, requested to become friends with Shank this semester and has messaged him a few times. Most recently, Kis asked eight of her professors to help raise money for Relay for Life, and Shank was one of two professors to donate for her.

“I think people are initially surprised when I tell them that I talk to my professor on Facebook,” Kis said.

Shank said he originally joined Facebook five years ago because he overheard his students in one of his classes talking about the “Thanksgiving Should Be Changed To Shanksgiving” group they created.

“It sounded really interesting, so I joined just so I could see their page, and that’s how it started,” Shank said.

Soon after, Shank created his own group, which is called “The Shank Pack.” At the start of every semester, he said he lets students know of his Facebook presence and encourages them to befriend him. Shank proclaims “The Shank Pack” as the coolest group on Facebook because it is dedicated to things that are cool and gives students an opportunity to contribute coolness.

For the first week or two in his freshman classes, he has his students list things that they think are cool or cool places they have been, which gets posted on the information section in his group.

“It’s just another way to introduce (the students) to the class,” Shank said. “It’s a way to have them get to know me so I’m not just a face in front of class.”

He said the main reason for being on Facebook is to make students more comfortable around him and if students think they might have fun in his class just by looking at Facebook, then it serves a good purpose.

Contact arts and sciences reporter Jennifer Shore

at [email protected].