Holiday tradition sparks community outreach

Professor Robert Bockman is the faculty adviser for the Moot Court Bar.

What started as a Christmas tradition for Prof. Bob Bockman’s family has inspired an annual event at the University of South Carolina School of Law. “Blanket the City” was born after Bockman shared with his students a tradition his wife and oldest daughter had started 20 years before.

“They went out and bought some blankets and took them to the homeless shelter. They had several blankets with them and they never even made it to the door, just giving them to the people who were waiting outside,” says Bockman. “Our family has kept up that tradition ever since.”

When the Moot Court Bar student organization was looking for a service project to do as a group, Bockman, the faculty advisor, suggested a similar tradition.

“Professor Bockman simply showed us what it means to be a generous person, and he allowed us to run with the idea,” says Wilson Jackson, a third-year law student and member of the Moot Court Bar.

This year, the organization teamed up with the Columbia Police Department, hoping to spread their reach into the community. The donations collected at the school will be given to the department. Officers will be able to carry the blankets in their patrol cars to give to anyone they find that needs one.

“We thought the Columbia Police would be able to help us reach people who may not be at the homeless shelter and who might be in need of a little warmth while they’re on the street,” says Bockman. “And we thought it would help the relationship with the police department and our community.”

Bockman says it’s also a chance to teach students about what being a lawyer outside their work really means.

“It’s important for law students to get in the habit of reaching out to our community. It reinforces the commitment that we have as lawyers to serve,” says Bockman.

“None of us would be where we are today if we did not have the support of other people, and it is important for us to pass that support on when we have the opportunity,” says Jackson.

To help the cause, you can donate blankets in the collection bin in the School of Law lobby, or give a monetary donation on their GoFundMe page or Amazon page. That money will be used to purchase blankets. Donations will be collected through Friday, Jan. 27.