Giving back

By Rachael Graf

Alumna serves needy in Tampa community

Since graduating in 2012, Ashley McAlpin has been busy.

The former graduate student assistant for the Liberty Champion graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in May 2012, and then spent two years in Liberty’s graduate program, where she earned her master’s degree in media communication.


“Liberty University is a unique place,” McAlpin said. “During my time at Liberty, I learned to cultivate my relationship with Christ, using it as a lens to view every project I approach or task I complete.”

In 2009, McAlpin became an employee of Laser Spine Institute (LSI), a healthcare company that provides minimally invasive spine surgery, although not all surgeries use laser technology. Recently, she became an online marketing specialist for LSI.

“I have always loved communication, and online communication is no exception,” McAlpin said. “While a student at Liberty, I wrote my master’s thesis on copyright infringement within a Pinterest generation. This was the foundation of my love for online communication in a socially driven day and age, leading me to look into internet marketing positions.”

Currently, McAlpin is showing people of the Tampa, Florida, community the love of Christ via LSI’s new outreach initiative, Give & Grub, which is a gourmet food truck that helps provide meals for hungry Tampa residents.

“Now, with locations across the United States, we are choosing to give back to the city that helped us become the organization we are today,” McAlpin said.

With every gourmet menu item sold from the food truck, LSI will donate a meal to a family in need, thanks to a partnership with Tampa Bay Lightning, a National Hockey League team.

“In the Tampa Bay area alone, each day there are more than 700,000 people who go without the food they need,” McAlpin said. “Of these, nearly 250,000 are children. The Give & Grub food truck is allowing people to fight back against hunger.”

Social media is also playing a significant role in the Give & Grub initiative. As an online marketing specialist, McAlpin was tasked with developing website structure and content to promote the outreach. She also helped create the strategy and design aspects of the campaign.

“Not only is Laser Spine Institute donating a meal for every menu item sold, but we are also donating a meal for every use of the #giveandgrub,” McAlpin said. “Our goal is to help more than 150,000 people through meal donation by the end of next year. Laser Spine Institute’s main goal is to help people find a better quality of life. Give & Grub is just another facet of that.”

Serving the city she now considers to be home is something McAlpin said she is excited about — something Liberty University prepared her to do.

“My education at Liberty, specifically my social media and online communication understanding, prepared me to take on this type of project and ultimately change the city that I call home,” McAlpin said. “Liberty instilled in me a passion to give back, and I am excited to give back through the Give & Grub food truck.”

McAlpin wants to encourage Liberty students to think outside the box concerning ministry and career choices. God may do something completely unexpected.

“As a student, I never would have guessed that I would be playing such a vital role in a campaign that would reach and help so many people that are in need,” McAlpin said. “It all goes back to a principle that I hold dear: every job, relationship and opportunity is a chance to create a mission. Whether working for a minimally invasive spine surgery company, a nonprofit organization or a newspaper, find your mission and make it personal.”​

GRAF is a feature reporter.

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