NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center


Search News Center Articles





NMSU students partner with local hotel to help the homeless community

Students in New Mexico State University?s Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management program have been learning that success in their business is measured in more than profits, and giving back to their community makes sense in more ways than one.


Group photo at Gospel Rescue Mission
Students in New Mexico State University?s Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management program drop off donations to the Gospel Rescue Mission, which provides shelter services to homeless and near-homeless individuals in Las Cruces. Standing, left to right, are Hampton Inn & Suites General Manager Miguel Duran; students Johnathan Richmond and Danielle Leininger; Greg, a rescue mission staff member; associate professor Betsy Stringam; and students Crystal Juarez and Ray Maldonado. Kneeling in front are students Krista Fissel and Seth Jenkins. (NMSU photo by Amanda Bradford)
Student lifts box out of van
New Mexico State University Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Management student Danielle Leininger unloads a box of shampoos and soaps that is being donated to the Gospel Rescue Mission by the Las Cruces Hampton Inn & Suites. (NMSU photo by Amanda Bradford)

The students have partnered with the Las Cruces Hampton Inn & Suites to help turn useful hotel items that might otherwise be discarded into valuable donations to the Gospel Rescue Mission, which provides shelter services to homeless and near-homeless individuals in Las Cruces.

Betsy Stringam, an associate professor in hotel and resort management, got the project rolling after students in her class did a presentation on how large hotels in cities like Las Vegas, Chicago and New York employ companies to repackage their leftover guest amenities ? shampoo and soap, linens and other items ? and send them to Africa as aid supplies.

Stringam recognized that this could be done on a smaller scale to benefit the local community, so she reached out to hotels in Las Cruces to see how her students could facilitate a similar program for a local charity. Hampton Inn & Suites General Manager Miguel Duran accepted the invitation to participate in the group?s pilot project.

?I wanted to get involved with this project,? Duran said, ?not only to reuse some of the items that were here at the hotel, but just to know that they were going somewhere special and being reused.?

Initially a sustainability project of the HRTM Student Association, the program has been continued by an informal group of students led by senior Seth Jenkins. The students gather once a month to load up and transport the donated items ? mostly soaps and bedding, but occasionally larger items like furniture ? to the shelter, where they take care of all the paperwork and return it to the hotel.

?This project appealed to me because I wanted to give back to the community,? said Jenkins, who hopes to one day own his own hotel. ?It?s so important ? being able to help out those in need and having that community bond is something that every company, every business should want.?

Jenkins said community involvement like this isn?t just about doing something that feels good ? though he smiles when he describes the impact the donations have on the people at the shelter ? it also makes good business sense.

Stringam said that lesson is important to these future business leaders.

?I wanted the students to know that when you go out there into the industry, that you?re a part of the community,? she said, ?and that you have to give back to that community.?

Bob Jeska, executive director of the Gospel Rescue Mission, said community service projects like this one are important for students in all disciplines.

?That selfless behavior is one that will stand them in good stead as an adult,? Jeska said, ?whether they go into business or work for someone else.?

Stringam, Jenkins and the other students hope to expand the program, and are eager to sign on additional local hotels to their route.

?This has really been a very successful partnership with the Hampton Inn and the students giving back to the community through the Gospel Rescue Mission,? Stringam said, ?and we?re hoping some of the other local hotels will come on board and that we can get more students involved and begin to have this be a very exciting program for the local charities.?

For more information on the program or to get involved, contact Stringam at betsys@nmsu.edu or 575-646-7424.