WSU Captures Holiday Spirit Through Charitable Efforts
Items gathered by a Sub for Santa drive conducted by WSU's Continuing Education.
OGDEN, Utah – With the fall semester finished, the weeks leading up to the holidays have been hectic for many Weber State University student groups, offices and departments involved in volunteer and charitable efforts.
From collecting for needy area veterans, to decorating Christmas trees for Sub for Santa families, to helping with free holiday photo sessions, the WSU community has stepped up to make a difference in the lives of others.
Once again this year, the WSU Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) Program conducted its “Shoeboxes for Veterans” drive. Six staff members collected and delivered a total of 303 boxes filled by several gift providers. Many other people and organizations provided their own boxes, filled them and brought them to VUB for delivery.
VUB advertised the activity to the WSU community and provided 250 boxes to be filled. During the annual drive, VUB collects and delivers the boxes, wrapped, to homeless veterans shelters and veterans nursing homes to distribute to client veterans who are struggling. The boxes are filled with socks, gloves, hats, thermal clothing and other needed items. VUB participates without using federal grant money from its budget.
Among those helping with the effort were 35 people in WSU Alumni Relations and the board and councils of the WSU Alumni Association, who donated more than 35 filled shoeboxes this year. This is the fourth year for the group to help with the “Shoeboxes for Veterans” activity.
Sandy Smith, office manager in Alumni Relations, added a personal touch to the alumni contribution this year by knitting stocking caps for the veterans’ shoeboxes. Smith — along with daughters Angie, 28, and Kristina, 22 — knit a total of 31 caps, and she hopes to knit even more for next year’s drive.
Smith worked during breaks and lunch hours and even during “quiet” moments while working at a summertime golf tournament — all to benefit homeless veterans.
“I think it’s wrong for someone who has served our country not to have a home in it,” Smith said. “It’s incredibly wrong. This is just a small way that I can say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ It’s a pleasure, an honor, to be able to do this.”
CIC stays busy
The holiday programs of the WSU Community Involvement Center (CIC) included the Angel Tree and the Christmas Tree Bridge.
The Angel Tree, a partnership with the Salvation Army for many years, this year featured efforts of 150 WSU students, staff and family members to provide Christmas presents to 150 children identified in the Salvation Army’s “Angel” program. Each of the children received an average of four new, unopened gifts: two from their wish list and two articles of clothing.
The Christmas Tree Bridge, a partnership with the WSU Sub for Santa program and Your Community Connection, featured 120 WSU students, staff and faculty from 30 on-campus departments and clubs. The volunteers decorated 30 Christmas trees displayed on the Shepherd Union bridge. The decorating totaled an estimated 240 volunteer-hours of work. The trees were displayed for three weeks and then donated to 12 Sub for Santa families. The remaining 18 trees were donated to the YCC, which presented them to families the organization serves. The Christmas Tree Bridge project has been in place for several years, although this is the first year that the CIC partnered with the WSU Sub for Santa program and the YCC.
Another outreach effort by the CIC this year is a collaboration with the Non-Traditional Student Center, Women’s Center, the Weber State University Student Association (WSUSA), and Student Involvement and Leadership (SIL). They have collected money and gifts for Leslie Baldwin, who became ill at the beginning of the fall semester. Baldwin is a student actively involved in many CIC programs and has served as the chair of the Headstart outreach efforts the CIC makes through the Volunteer Involvement Program, which is funded by WSUSA. She also is a single mother of two children and provides foster care for two adults with disabilities, all while attending WSU full time.
Facing growing medical bills from her being in and out of the hospital all semester, Baldwin and her family will benefit from $202 raised from WSUSA students, $40 from staff at the Women’s Center, gifts purchased by individual staff members in the CIC and SIL, and stockings full of goodies provided by the Non-Traditional Student Center. The activity has featured the involvement of at least 10 staff members from the CIC, the Women’s Center, the Non-Traditional Student Center and SIL and up to 35 WSUSA students who have made donations.
Supporting St. Anne’s
Fourteen Black Scholars United officers and members from WSU volunteered for four and a half hours to help the St. Anne's Homeless Shelter organize its food pantry. The group also helped create a system that will allow easier intake of the donated food items and accessibility to them, distributed lunches to some of the families living at the shelter, and provided some of the children with Black Scholars United T-shirts and tickets to a WSU men’s basketball game.
The St. Anne’s activity is just one example of BSU volunteerism. The group has volunteers helping a different organization every month.
Approximately 13 student employees from the WSU Multicultural Student Center (MSC) joined other MSC students on Dec. 3 for “Help Portrait” at the Marshall White Community Center in Ogden. The event provided free holiday photo sessions for the following community populations: the homeless, low-income families, single parents and families, the military, the elderly and those who may not otherwise have the money to pay for a professional photo shoot.
The volunteers helped the families and individuals register, directed them to the different photographers, and provided drinks and snacks. More than 300 families and individuals benefited from the event.
Cash, food to benefit mission
KWCR 88.1 FM had its third annual “Hope for the Holidays” fundraiser Nov. 19 to benefit the Ogden Rescue Mission. More than a dozen KWCR staff members and DJs collected and delivered more than $1,000 in cash and food donations. They collected donations outside the South Ogden Fresh Market store and later at the Wildcat Theater during the WSU Free Concert Series. The donation included $769.38 in cash, plus $150 of premade food donation bags provided by Fresh Market. They were coupled with food donations collected during the day.
Supporting Sub for Santa
WSU Continuing Education this year again supported the WSU Sub for Santa program with the Women’s Center. Staff members donated money and gifts to three WSU students’ families selected by a review committee. For example, one family received beds, clothing and toys. Food items were donated to the WSU food bank.
Donating baby supplies
The WSU Center for Diversity & Unity’s Martin Luther King Jr. Chair coordinated a baby supply drive for St. Martha’s Closet, a Catholic Community Services program. More than 30 faculty, staff and students donated and collected needed materials for underprepared families of newborns. The donations included diapers, bottles, binkies, blankets, onesies and other high-demand items. In all, more than two shopping carts full of materials were delivered to Catholic Community Services, which hopes the drive becomes an annual event.
Athletes, employees chip in
The employees and student-athletes in the WSU athletics department captured the spirit of the holidays through several charitable activities.
During the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s canned food drive, taking place over two days and four athletic events in November, more than 20 student-athletes collected 547.5 pounds of nonperishable food donated to Catholic Community Services.
On Nov. 21, more than 50 student-athletes participated in a neighborhood canned food collection night. They presented 1,181.5 pounds of food to Catholic Community Services and 691 pounds to “Weber Cares.”
The WSU men’s track and field team had two ongoing efforts: the collection of used running shoes for donation to Third World countries, and the collection of unused toiletry items collected from hotels where the team stays, with those items benefiting St. Anne’s. Also, on Nov. 30, the men’s track team held a holiday social, during which they collected new toys for donation to Toys for Tots.
The WSU women’s basketball team’s volunteer efforts at St. Anne’s have taken place several times during the fall semester. Most recently, a dozen team members volunteered over a three-day period to serve food and organize the pantry, clothing and storage areas.
Some started early
The Christmas charitable activities follow several others this fall by the WSU community.
For example, WSU’s Pacific Island TOA Club had a bowling activity and service project Nov. 10 at the WSU Bowling Wildcat Lane. More than 30 members and many other students provided canned and nonperishable food items donated to the WSU “Weber Cares” project.
WSU’s Hispanic Area Council (HAC) and the Social Work Club collaborated on a food drive in late October. Students, officers and members hung door fliers seeking donations throughout Shadow Valley and the WSU Davis area, eventually collecting about 300 cans of food for the Thanksgiving season.
A “Latin Fever Dance” organized by HAC and the MSC, in collaboration with the Spanish Club, garnered more than 400 cans of food to help residents of Ogden Weber Community Action through the holiday season. More than 280 students and community members participated in the Nov. 4 event at the Shepherd Union. This is the second year for HAC and MSC have collaborated and donated food for people in need.
Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.
- Randy Wilson, director, Veterans Upward Bound
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Margie Esquibel, associate director, Alumni Relations
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