Accounting Students Help Five Area Families

“Santa’s Workshop” – Various students play the role of elves in getting gifts wrapped and labeled during the first week of December 2009.

Santa’s Workshop – Various students play the role of elves in getting gifts wrapped and labeled in early December.

Undergraduate and graduate-level accounting students at the College of Charleston helped five area families enjoy the holiday season this year as part of The Palmetto Project’s Families Helping Families (FHF) Program.  Over the past several weeks, nearly 50 members and candidates of the Mu Beta chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the College’s chapter of the international accounting honor society, either made donations, purchased and wrapped presents and/or helped to transport the donated gifts to the FHF distribution center.

Caroline Kinnett, the chapter’s community service officer and a master’s of accountancy student, spent the early parts of the fall semester looking for a holiday service project that would allow her group to have as much impact for as many people as possible.  After considering several options, Kinnett noted that “the FHF program was just a perfect opportunity for us to give back to a community that has been so good to so many of us.”

Kinnett, along with fellow master’s students Lisle Friedman and Nicole Robinson, established lists of gifts to be purchased by student volunteers during the early stages of the project.  After a few weeks of receiving gifts, they planned a “wrapping party” during which other volunteers ensured that each gift was properly wrapped and labeled with the correct family member’s name.  A few days later, two SUVs were packed full of goods and driven by master’s students Brian Lehnerer and Rebecca Zawinsky to the FHF distribution center in Mt. Pleasant.

While the chapter does a variety of service projects, Kinnett noted that this one was “extra special” because of the amount of gifts students donated allowed the five families to receive above and beyond what the FHF recommended be purchased for them.  While this is only the first year that the College partnered with the FHF program, it will not be the last.  Accountant that she is, Kinnett has already prepared detailed instructions for her successor to ensure that this is one holiday tradition the College definitely continues!

Beta Alpha Psi ( is an honorary organization founded in 1919 for financial information students and professionals. The primary objective of Beta Alpha Psi is to encourage and give recognition to scholastic and professional excellence in the business information field. This includes promoting the study and practice of accounting, providing opportunities for self-development, service and association among members and practicing professionals, and encouraging a sense of ethical, social, and public responsibility.  The Mu Beta Chapter was installed at the College of Charleston in September 2008.

The Palmetto Project ( is a catalyst for innovation. Through special partnerships with governments, businesses, civic groups, schools, and religious organizations, it strives to bring a fresh, entrepreneurial spirit to the challenge of building successful communities in a great state.

The Families Helping Families 2009 (FHF) program (  is a partnership directed by The Palmetto Project that brings together the generosity of local families, churches, businesses and community groups to help area families in need. In 2008, the FHF Holiday Programs helped over 2,400 families have a more joyous holiday season.

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