COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Toward the end of a quiet College Station cul-de-sac, a garage door creaks open.
“I live here,” J.D. Leaverton, an Aggie grad student said. “Lived here for a few years now.”
If I didn't just tell you J.D. was a grad student, you may think a middle-aged man lived there.
“This is all eclectic,” he began. “Some is junk, some is useful.”
Maybe you would think a college-student gym rat did.
“This is the first time I’ve worked out in a while,” he said with a laugh as he benched with two 45-pound weights on each side of a bar.
Leaverton has rented this home since his sophomore year, with the money he received from a scholarship.
“This has allowed me to accumulate all this stuff,” he explained, as he looked around the garage.
While a cliche, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
All these years later, it serves as the perfect spot for his peers and his business: The Giving Tee, an educational experience that's part of a master's course, the Integrated Business Experience, he takes while at Texas A&M.
“None of this would really be possible without the space,” he said. “And, without even the tools that I've accumulated.”
Next to his utilized weight set and in front of a dart board, sits a machine used to screen print.
“It’s definitely very humbling because I’ll never look at a tee shirt in the same way again,” said Melissa Anne Lee, another grad student and his co-founder.
The two are joined by four others, Nathaniel Bass, Kyle Bays, Ana Sony and Connor Stewart.
Collectively, they spend hours outside of class and work wiping away the typical student routine.
“You get to see the very direct results of your labor,” Leaverton started. “You put in a lot of time and effort, you work the long hours, you get to see that immediately.”
Each sale goes toward the Bryan/College Station Voices for Children to train a CASA, or a court-appointed special advocate.
“We just want to come out of this thing saying we donated as much as we can,” Lee said.
“Everybody deserves a little bit of happiness and joy in their life,” said Amy Faulkner, the executive director for the organization. “This is just a really small way that we can support the kids in the family and our community.”
And at the end of the day, when the garage door closes, this student-led group knows they left a mark beyond this quiet cul-de-sac.
“The more profit we can get to donate to them the better,” Lee explained.