‘Bears Helping Babies’ class project transforms into aid for Ukraine

Journalism professor helps students utilize their skills to aid Ukrainian families in need. Photo illustration by Camryn Duffy

By Sophia Tejeda | Staff Writer

Matthew Brammer, professor of journalism, new media and public relations, proposed a hypothetical case study to his two classes about how they could utilize their skills developed in class to provide aid to families in Ukraine. Much to his surprise, the students — energized and excited to make a difference — transformed the hypothetical into reality.

In partnering with Samaritan’s Purse, Brammer’s Principals of Advertising and Public Relations and Writing and Editing for Online Media students created a project named Bears Helping Babies. It includes a website with a donation link and articles written by the students, including those about Baylor’s impact through Bears Helping Babies and about Baylor students’ personal involvement.

Brammer said he sympathized with the parents of Ukraine, understanding the struggles of parenthood himself.

Bears Helping Babies focuses on providing families with diapers so that they may focus on parenting in a new light, one in which their entire home life has been disrupted.

Utilizing Samaritan’s Purse allows Bears Helping Babies to offer aid immediately, as Samaritan’s Purse has already established an aid program that provides formula, health care kits and sanitary kits, among other items.

Students in Brammer’s classes work on Bears Helping Babies as a class project, designing the website themselves. Brammer said his students chose the project in order to make an impact. While they acknowledged the importance of prayer, they went one step further, combining their gifts and resources to provide real change.

“These students are amazing,” Brammer said. “They are gifted in so many ways, and most importantly, they have compassion. They want to help.”

Brammer said his classes have future aspirations to add the sales of stickers and shirts to raise more donations. However, their current focus is utilizing their website to raise money and employing the Baylor community to help make a difference.

“This is something that has brought the world together,” Brammer said. “For lots of students, this is their first exposure to this kind of evil and the [opportunity] to take a stand and say, ‘I don’t agree with this. I want to help.'”

Brammer said he views this project as an opportunity to get involved, as a simple choice to donate rather than spending $4 on your next Starbucks coffee. He said individuals could relate by valuing family and adopting an understanding that real people’s lives are affected in Ukraine.

“We as Christians and humans have an obligation to help,” Brammer said. “Here is one tool and opportunity for us to do something simple to get educated about what is going on … [and] engage in being compassionate to the human condition.”

Brammer said he aspires to watch his students grow and learn from this process in creating and establishing this project. He said teaching provides the accumulation of talent and drive of students that helps create the possibility to build ideas into reality.

“In Principals of Advertising and Public Relations, we learn how to use the tools available to us, whether it’s social media, print media, broadcast or radio… and learn how to create things that are persuasive and communicate a specific message,” Brammer said. “Why not use those tools to make a difference?”

League City senior Briana Garcia is the only student who is enrolled in both classes. She utilizes this position to help facilitate communication among Brammer’s students involved in the project.

Garcia’s involvement includes promoting Bears Helping Babies. She communicates with other student-athletes as a member of the track and field team and through her podcast entitled “The Untold Stories: Athlete Edition.” Garcia said she hopes to bolster public relations on the project, including tabling at Fountain Mall and creating stickers and flyers to spread throughout local Waco restaurants.

Garcia said she appreciates the opportunity to cultivate skills developed in class with real-world experience, which prepares her for the job market and provides her with an understanding of what she desires to do with her own future.

“I want to work for an organization whose purpose is doing good things for people,” Garcia said. “Right now, what I am doing with advertising, PR and writing stories is what I would be doing in a job. It is nice that I am doing this because it is fresh on my mind right as I am graduating.”

Garcia said she encourages the Baylor community to donate and promote the message. She said this project demonstrates the values of the Baylor community, and that involvement serves as an example to other universities.

“It is about making a slight difference in Ukraine,” Garcia said. “I think a lot of people won’t donate because they don’t think they can make a change, but if we persuade and inform people in the right way, we can raise enough money and grow donations.”