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November 28, 2005

Second Harvest, gift programs for needy under way across campus

By Louise Donahue

There’s still time to discover your inner Santa Claus. Throughout campus, students, staff, and faculty are organizing to buy holiday gifts for needy families and to help the Second Harvest Food Drive.

Photo: Giving TreeThe Giving Tree and other similar programs allow participants to choose a paper ornament with a gift request on it.
Photo: Louise Donahue

Financially struggling UCSC student parents and their children are the focus of the Giving Tree program run by Child Care and Early Education Services.

Each tree--set up in all campus child-care facilities and at other campus locations--features paper ornaments with gift requests. Gift-givers as well as those receiving the gifts remain anonymous under the program. Those wishing to participate may call (831) 459-2967 or e-mail

In Environmental Studies, gifts are being gathered for two teen-aged expectant mothers through the Santa Cruz Volunteer Center’s Adopt-A-Family program.

“We’re all about contributing to the environment around us in many different ways,” said Marissa Maciel, faculty services coordinator. “This is a way of bridging the gap between the campus and the community.” More information on the program is available by calling (831) 427-5075, or checking the web site.

The Christmas Project has become a tradition in many UCSC offices, including the Academic Resources Center. Gifts are provided for children and adults in farmworker families. Longtime Christmas Project participant Larry Trujillo, executive director of student academic support services, will be working with the program again this year. To take part, call Trujillo at (831) 459-3630.

Another tradition is the Toys for Tots drive, collecting new, unwapped gifts at bins in UCSC’s fire station and police station. Toys—for newborns to 12-year-olds--may be dropped off at any time from November 28 through December 20. Often, campus holiday parties include toy donations, which will be picked up by firefighters if reqested.

One of the most visible holiday efforts is the Second Harvest Food Drive, which will have a Campus Mail Services truck parked at the main campus entrance from 7:15 to 9:30 a.m. from December 1 to 9 to collect food donations.

Students representing about 20 different student organizations will be going door-to-door in the community this week, dropping off Second Harvest bags for residents to fill with food and donations. The bags will be picked up and the food loaded into the bus.

The students' efforts are being coordinated by the Student Volunteer Connection, which also encourages students to donate meals from their meal plans or money from their Flexidollar accounts to help Second Harvest. The donations are coordinated through UCSC Dining Services, and each meal donated provides $19 to Second Harvest.

While food donations are always welcome, donors are also being asked to consider cash donations this year. Cash donations have the benefit of being available for use year-round, and Second Harvest is able to distribute more than $9 worth of food for every dollar donated.

Cosponsored by the Academic Senate and the Staff Advisory Board, the Second Harvest drive has a goal of collecting 50,000 pounds of food—or its equivalent in combined food and cash donations—by December 2.

“The annual holiday food drive is an easy and meaningful way for the campus community to contribute to one of the most basic needs in our community,” said Donna Blitzer, UCSC director of government and community relations. “Second Harvest Food Bank supports over 120 local nonprofit agencies that distribute food to almost 45,000 people every month, most of whom are children.” Blitzer and Campus Mail Services director Manuel Grijalva are cochairs for the drive.

Checks payable to Second Harvest Food Bank may be sent through interdepartmental mail to Campus Mail Services.


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