December 8, 2003
Campus community pitching in to help
By Louise Donahue
Signs of the season are unmistakable around campus: Toys for Kids collections
are under way at the Fire Station, people in need are being adopted
for the holidays by faculty and staff, and canned goods are filling
up Second Harvest bins.
Among the many helping out are Merrill College faculty and staff members
who help migrant families through the Christmas Project.
The requests run from the typicalCD players and gift certificatesto
the heartbreaking, according to Merrill Faculty Services assistant Pat
Sanders. One kid just wanted a gift. Thats all,
she said. One adult requested a blanket. Its heart-wrenching,
said Sanders. It makes you feel good about giving and grateful
for what you have.
Sanders said coordinating the drive at Merrill hasnt been difficult.
The Merrill faculty and staff are always eager to help out,
While Merrill College and other units help out with the Christmas Project,
that program is far from the only opportunity to play Santas helper.
Campus police are buying gifts for a single-parent family in need arranged
through Family Student Housing.
We all enjoy doing it, said Sisi Belcher, an administrative
assistant. Its a real warm and fuzzy feeling.
Police Department employees are picking out toys and clothes for the
children and filling requests from the parent. Once the gifts have been
selected, officers will present them to the family. The police are also
participating in the Fire Departments Toys for Kids drive.
Toys for Kids is a tradition with the UCSC Fire Department, said coordinator
Troy Souza, a fire engineer. Souza said the campus filled seven or eight
large bins of toys last year. The drive is done in conjunction with
the Santa Cruz Fire Department.
Unwrapped toys may be dropped off at the Fire Station or firefighters
will pick them up, Souza said. Often, people holding campus holiday
parties will have everyone contribute a toy for the drive rather than
exchange gifts. The generosity is just overwhelming, said
Souza, who has been coordinating contributions at the Fire Station for
several years. The people in the campus community have been wonderful.
Staff members at the Physical Plant are busy with both Second Harvest
and the Santa Cruz Volunteer Centers Adopt A Family project. Rachel
Huff, assistant to the senior superintendent, said the Physical Plant
always fills two bins for Second Harvest, and is selecting gifts for
a four-member family. All they asked for were shoes and sweatpantsthings
like that. Theyre not asking for Game Boys or X-boxes.
Huff said Physical Plant has been helping families for years. Whats
amazing to me is that those who have the least, help the most. Physical
Plant is just an amazing group.
UCSC students gave the Second Harvest Food Bank a big boost before
hitting the books for finals, raising $5,242 in the Second Harvest Hunger
Fast. In what has become a campus tradition, students donated their
dining hall meals on November 21, directing the amount that would have
been spent on their meals to the Food Bank. Danny Ambrose and Charlene
Lo, coordinators of the Student Volunteer Connection and members of
the Second Harvest committee, organized the Hunger Fast. They
did a wonderful job, said Alina Tejera, assistant to John Holloway,
executive director of Student Life. Last years total was $4,423.
Not counting the Hunger Fast tally, cash and checks contributed as
of December 3 to Second Harvest totaled $4,814, according to Manuel
Grijalva, Mail Services manager and one of the campus campaigns
organizers. Because Second Harvest is able to buy in bulk, the $4,814
total is the equivalent of 7.2 tons of food, Grijalva said. Looked at
another way, for every dollar donated by UCSC, Second Harvest can purchase
and distribute $9 worth of food.
Grijalva said organizers hope to double the December 3 total by the
time the drive ends on December 17. Donated food will be packed into
a Metro bus near the main campus entrance on December 17 at 2 p.m.,
Second Harvest is supported by the Academic Senate, the Staff Advisory
Board, and students. Its a total community effort,
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