Just in time for Thanksgiving, here’s a heartwarming story: students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock are helping to promote a local food bank as part of their public relations class. The students are combining the efforts to blog for the food bank and keep up their social media presence on Twitter and Facebook. This frees up time for food bank staff people to actually help the hungry and allows their message to get a wider reach among the web-savvy than they might otherwise have.

In addition to being nice because it involves college students being good people, the story is an awesome illustration of the sort of interesting, practical projects that a good professor can come up with. There’s no reason that learning had to disconnect students from their communities, and volunteering as social media managers and bloggers for an actual non-profit gives them the same benefits as creating promotional material for a fake company.

If you think this is an interesting project, try finding a sympathetic professor who might let you do something similar–or strike out on your own as a volunteer. I do social media for a local nonprofit, and the feeling I get is that most nonprofit marketing people are overworked and would love an extra hand. It looks good on your resume, builds skills, and is good karma–what’s better than that?

[Image courtesy of Flickr user Aldo Fontaciella. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.]