MURRAY, Ky. — The current Murray State University #RacersCare holiday campaign has featured a variety of kindness-related initiatives led by faculty, staff and students, including many examples involving the University’s regional campuses.

Numerous campus, community organizations, and schools such as Murray Elementary School and Vienna (Illinois) Elementary School contributed to the Books for Belize project and, ultimately, approximately 4,000 books were collected. Students at the Murray State Paducah and Madisonville campuses were very involved in the Books for Belize effort. Five Murray State students will travel to Belize in January to student teach for three weeks in the very schools targeted for the Books for Belize Project. Students who will be traveling to Belize for the three-week trip in January will not only bring their personal belongings for the trip but also additional bags of books that have been donated and will be given to local schools. Past Murray State students who had participated in the trip noticed the absence of books that children in Belize can enjoy and benefit from.

“It’s a nice giveback when you see a need, and then you take action to fulfill that need,” said Pam Matlock, education coordinator at the Murray State Paducah regional campus.

Matlock is quick to credit Bonnie Higginson, regents professor emeritus through the College of Education and Human Services, for her leadership and support of the Books for Belize program.

The Madisonville campus recently co-hosted the fifth annual benefit dinner for a local toy drive and raised $9,000. Tables at the dinner, which were sold for $150 each, accommodated five guests and a celebrity host who were dressed as characters or celebrities, such as Minnie Mouse, Uncle Jesse from the popular television show “Full House” and Napoleon Dynamite.

Student ambassador activities through the Madisonville campus have also included a food drive for the Hopkins County Food Bank and a newspaper collection for the Hopkins County Humane Society.

“Murray State University-Madisonville is proud be educating our students in and out of the classroom. Providing opportunities to foster responsible citizenship by giving back to the communities we serve helps produce a well-rounded graduate,” said Heather Roy, director of the Madisonville regional campus.

The Paducah campus has hosted a holiday food and supply drive for area food pantries and Marshall County Need Line led by students in the public and community health program. The Murray State Paducah Social Work Club recently concluded a successful food drive.

Dan Lavit, associate dean of regional academic outreach and interim director of the Paducah regional campus, has seen an increase in these types of activities since the new regional campus building opened in 2014.

“We’re developing more of a campus atmosphere and community,” said Lavit. “We’re seeing students getting involved in and beyond the classroom.”

Initiatives that have been led at the Murray State Hopkinsville campus include a recent Thanksgiving Food Drive by the Kentucky Education Association students and a Christmas for a Student program to assist children in need.

“I’m so proud of our faculty, staff and student efforts of kindness. Our non-traditional students often struggle to balance work, families and careers yet find time to give back to their communities and the larger global world. This makes me proud to be a Racer,” said Dr. Brian Van Horn, associate provost for regional academic outreach.

To learn more about the #RacersCare holiday campaign, please visit