CAS community partnership makes wishes come true

For the past seven years Jennifer Stone, associate professor of special education in the department of Intervention Services and Leadership in Education (ISLE) at the College of Applied Studies (CAS) has partnered with CAS patron Jay Hull to fulfill Christmas wishes for Starkey, Inc.’s Angel Tree project.

The number of angel wishes granted through this partnership varies year to year, but this year the partnership served 25 Angels — the largest to date. Funding for the Starkey Angel Tree project is donated by Hull and matched by CAS in addition to the student and faculty volunteers from ISLE donating their time to purchase, wrap and deliver the gifts to Starkey.

“This outreach project has meant a lot to us. It helps show students that being part of your community outside of your classroom is part of being a good teacher and citizen,” Stone said. “Often, students have gone in to volunteer at the Christmas and spring parties where they get to directly interact with and support the diverse population that Starkey serves.”

The relationship between CAS and Starkey started in 2005 when Jay Hull established the Joe Hull Scholarship (named after Hull’s brother Joe) to benefit the masters in special education program at Wichita State University (WSU). Recipients of the scholarship have been required to volunteer with Starkey to see where some of their future students may be employed as adults. The partnership between WSU and Starkey grew from there.

Hull’s commitment to supporting Starkey was inspired by his brother Joe Hull who has cognitive disabilities and a winning personality. “The Angels often have deceased parents and family that have ignored them so they wouldn’t have Christmas without the program,” Jay Hull said. “Many, like my brother Joe still believe in Santa. Still today, Joe can’t wait for Santa at age 59.”

Stone said that through the last seven years, they have completed the lists of 107 Angels through this partnership.