Meet Natalie Counce!
She is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas and a Fayetteville native. She is currently studying business and serves as the Assistant Philanthropy Chair for Kappa Kappa Gamma.
If you were one of Santa’s reindeer which would you be?
Rudolph! I want a song that’s after me! I think I might be a little embarrassed if I had a red nose, but Rudolph is a leader, and I would like to consider myself a leader. He also seems kind of clumsy, and that’s me too.
Does your family have a traditional holiday food that is unique?
Well, my sister is very proud of her green bean bundles so we have those. Also, my mom makes the most amazing cheese grits.
How would you describe yourself in three adjectives?
Involved: All my friends would agree with that. Sometimes it is hard for me to find 15 minutes because I’m (constantly) jumping from one place to another. I like to be involved and invested; it’s a good use of my time.
Determined: I do not take defeat lightly. That motivates me in a lot of ways to do well. I love school. I am a nerd. It brings out the best in me I think, when I put a little pressure on myself. I want to do really with what I am committed to.
Loyal: I am definitely a quality over quantity type person. Whether that’s with friends or the things that I like to do, I am loyal.
Who is your role model and why?
My dad is my role model. He is so accomplished and well-rounded. I really look up to him a lot. What he has done in his life is amazing, and he has a lot of integrity, which I think is the coolest thing. He is a strong man of God and determined and he works hard, and he’s nerdy like me. I really hope that people would say that I have those same qualities.
How did you get involved with The Salvation Army?
I first knew about The Salvation Army in the capacity of the Red Kettle. What kid doesn’t like to grab the change out of their mom’s purse and put it in the kettle? My aunt always took me to do the Angel Tree too. We would go shopping all over for gifts, and I just remember thinking it was so cool. Giving can bring so much joy!
When I wanted to start taking ownership of my service, I immediately thought of The Salvation Army as a place where I wanted to give back. It started off as a coat drive with a really small school in the 7th grade, and I continued to do drives throughout high school!
I also did pageants for a couple of years and my personal platform was ‘Community Soldier’, in reference to being a soldier for The Salvation Army in my community. My platform was to spread awareness of what The Salvation Army does and to show how easy it is to give back. I think a lot of people see it as a big task to donate or give their time, but it can be very rewarding if you follow through with it.
[Through my pageants] I was able to do a lot of things. I helped with disaster relief in a small town called Cincinnati, AR when they were hit by a tornado. Volunteers were helping with food, and I got to be a part of that. I’ve worked in the shelter a few times. Last year, a few friends and I made cookies and passed them out at the shelter over Christmas break… it was so fun! They were joking around with us and telling us what kind of cookies they would prefer for next year. It was a blast!
What is your #redkettlereason?
Because giving is simple but the impact is big!
I think ringing the bells represents Christmas Spirit, The Salvation Army, and the people they are helping. It’s so cool because I have been invested in [The Salvation Army] all growing up so to be able to see this time of year when everyone recognizes The Salvation Army is really cool. I think about The Salvation Army year round, but a lot of people just think about it at Christmas.
What advice would you give to another University of Arkansas student who wants to make a difference in NW Arkansas?
I would say take initiative. Know that you can start something yourself! It may seem like a big task, but honestly, there are so many people to help you. It can be as simple as telling people to bring you coats. Take it as your responsibility to provide [for the community]. That’s why I have been so involved with The Salvation Army! It’s exciting to build upon what started as a small thing.
Everyone has some way to give, whether it’s time, money, or physical items. I think people don’t realize that it is easier than it seems to make a big difference. Take ownership of what you are doing and be proud of it!
Did you foresee making such a big influence?
My first coat drive, I got about 100 coats. My second one was 50 coats, but I did more and more (of them). A few years ago, before I was even in a sorority, I talked to the director of Greek Life about what I was doing. I asked if the girls coming in for orientation that year would bring a coat with them. We got over 1,000 coats! It was so successful and I never thought it would be something like that.
Taking initiative, and taking advice from other people- you never know where it could lead.
Start small and it could turn into something big!
Is there anything you would like to add?
I love these coats drives. Even though it is just an article of clothing, a coat represents a lot: warmth, comfort and security.
And that is exactly what The Salvation Army is there to do. They provide warmth, a safe place, and security to people in need. The way they do that is very tangible.
They are the hands and feet of Jesus. They are helping the community by meeting their physical needs. A coat may be exactly what one person needs that day. It may save them. The Salvation Army is there to help people in need and to be there no matter what the circumstance. I love The Salvation Army for how basic that is but how impactful it is.