A family affair: Moot Court Bar uses familial tradition to “Blanket the City”


The University of South Carolina School of Law finds many ways to give back to the community around the year, and especially during the holiday season. In just the last month, students and faculty have held the annual Best Class Food Drive for Harvest Hope Food Bank, the law school’s “Families Helping Families” initiative, and the Student Bar Association’s toy drive for the Salvation Army.

But Professor Robert Bockman and the Moot Court Bar are helping spread even more holiday warmth this year by collecting blankets for their new service project, “Blanket the City.”

“The idea of donating blankets for people in need, homeless persons in particular, has been something that my family has done for a number of years now,” Bockman said. “We would go with our children to Oliver Gospel Mission, and would donate blankets as a way to be in the holiday spirit and also to remember the needs of others at that time.”

The Moot Court Bar participates in a service project every semester, and when members of the group heard about Bockman’s annual efforts, they wanted to partake too, and become a part of the Bockman family’s tradition.

Second year student, Sarah Shipe.

Second year student, Sarah Shipe.

“I immediately wanted to be involved,” second-year student Sarah Shipe said. “There are many opportunities to get involved in the community through the law school, and this particular project resonated with me because my family does something similar every Christmas; shopping, wrapping, and bringing gifts to a local nursing home.”

“Blanket the City” kicked off November 12 and will continue through December 11, the last day of exams.

Members of the law school, as well as the community, are welcome to participate by donating blankets of all sizes in drop-off boxes placed around the law school lobby or through monetary contributions to their GoFundMe account. Shipe and fellow members of the Moot Court Bar will then deliver blankets to places across Columbia, like Oliver Gospel Mission and the Children’s Hospital at Palmetto Richland.

“This is the first year we’ve done this project, and I just hope to get our students involved. It’s a difficult time of year with exams going on, but I hope that we, as a student body, can take the time to think about those less fortunate and give of our time and other resources,” Shipe said.

In addition to meeting an immediate need, Bockman also sees a long-term benefit.

“I think it is so important for law students to get in the habit of thinking about other people and thinking about way to serve the community, so that when they become members of the profession and admitted to the Bar, they already have that experience and awareness,” Bockman said. “So many of our students come to this school with the idea that they want to serve the public. We take advantage of that and reinforce it here so that when they leave as our graduates, they continue that awareness and tradition of serving the public as all lawyers have the responsibility to do.”

Both the toy drive and blanket drive will run through December 11. To donate, drop off your item(s) in the appropriate box, which can be found in the law school lobby. Those wishing to participate in the Families Helping Families program should contact the law library.