Behind the magnolia curtain lies Vanderbilt, and up Fourth Avenue and behind the black iron fence lies O’More College of Design. However, O’More’s students don’t want to be hidden on its lovely hill. We want to be engaged in the community we love. To forge a closer relationship between the town and the college, freshmen students Maddie Hansen and Eliza Hawkins cultivated what is O’More’s  College of Design first philanthropic student organization, The Magnolia Social. The mission of The Magnolia Social is to bridge the two blocks between O’More and downtown Franklin and support our charming town.

Maddie and Eliza, who serve as co-presidents of The Magnolia Social, grew up in Franklin. They know the joy that being connected to their Franklin roots can bring. This appreciation has helped shape who they are today.

Throughout their high school careers, Maddie and Eliza knew they wanted to attend O’More. They spent their summers at O’More’s summer studio, a youth camp dedicated to art and design, and they participated in O’More’s annual Verve Show, which encourages young designers. Before they knew it, they were a part of the O’More family. They love being within walking distance of their childhood town, allowing them to be ever present in all it has to offer.

However, around the second week of their first semester, Maddie and Eliza noticed that even though O’More was in the heart of downtown Franklin, campus and downtown seemed like two separate worlds. Many O’More students commute from surrounding areas, making it more difficult for them to cultivate the same appreciation for Franklin that Maddie and Eliza have had since childhood.

To remedy this problem, Maddie and Eliza began brainstorming ways to connect O’More students with their community. Encouraged by meetings with Dr. Rosen of O’More College and Mary Pearce of the Heritage Foundation, they got to work recruiting members and developing the club. And so The Magnolia Social was born.

The Magnolia Social is an all-inclusive social club dedicated to the preservation of Downtown Franklin and geared towards philanthropic projects. The Magnolia Social’s first major project has been fundraising for the Heritage Foundation’s Old, Old Jail. The Magnolia Social’s goal is to raise $1,000, which they will donate to the Heritage Foundation by the end of the school year. The club is well ahead of schedule with well over half the funds raised.

O'More College of Designmaddie at the jail

Maddie and Eliza have only been at O’More for three months, but they have big plans for The Magnolia Social and for the town and the college that they love. While college students often establish social clubs, rarely do those organizations have a community-oriented philanthropic mission. These two college students have been working diligently to mend the town and gown divide and give to the community. If Maddie and Eliza have their way, no magnolia curtains or iron gates will divide the college from the town that they call home.

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Donna is one of those former corporate types (Xerox) who wanted to try something new. She went from marketing to blogger and now Style Editor, and is always on the lookout for what’s trending in restaurants, new stores, charity events, and entertainment. To keep up the pace, Donna is usually found drinking at least one Cold Brew coffee a day or on a busy day make it two. Contact me at