Athens Ridge Cares (ARC) is a student-directed philanthropic group that provides an opportunity for students to give back to the community within their financial means. By combining hard work and fun, students partner with Athens Ridge ownership and the surrounding community to organize, promote and execute projects that contribute to local charities like Athens Food Bank, or national charities like the ALS Foundation.
This spirit of philanthropy will also be important to the up-and-coming Knoxville, Tenn., and Gainesville, Fla., properties.
“I think it should be a part of everyone’s life,” Brian Gianone, one of the owners of Athens Ridge, said about ARC. Gianone went on to talk about how some people give to charities through time and others give money.
“What college students don’t have is money,” he said, “But college students have time.”
ARC is made to challenge students in some way so that the philanthropy projects become fun and engaging, hopefully sparking an interest in contributing to charity in the future.
“We give students a chance to participate. It gives a chance for students to experience a feeling of doing something right for others,” Gianone said about the program. But Gianone also expressed that ARC isn’t about his perception of philanthropy, but rather about giving students an outlet.
“The point is, this is an easy stepping stone for philanthropy,” he said, adding that ARC was, “formed as an amenity to the community.”
ARC is also provided to appeal to a wider variety of students who may not come to parties or seek out other residents. Gianone says that the program helps residents meet one another and maybe form friendships through donating their time.
“It’s a way of interacting with neighbors, meeting your neighbors and making friends,” Gianone said, “It’s just as unique as the lazy river.”
Gianone went on to say that ARC does not back any one charity or cause, and mostly gives to local charities but did take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge last year. ARC aims to first support the Athens Ridge community and residents as well as the community of Athens and then looks at national causes.
Gianone said that the projects are always going to be a challenge to students such as January’s Polar Plunge when residents were challenged to jump into the pool in the winter. The causes are also based on what residents want to support.
“It’s to spark an interest in philanthropy, not back any one charity,” Gianone said. Gianone said he hopes that residents will begin to challenge the owners of Athens Ridge and bring more ideas for philanthropy to the table.
“To our knowledge we are the only apartment community with something like this,” Gianone said, “I know it will grow. I think as time goes by, we will have students getting more involved.”
After all, that is the goal of ARC. Philanthropy makes a person feel good about himself. By offering ARC, the ownership of Athens Ridge hopes to give that opportunity to as many students as they can.