A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Campus Community Gives Back During Holiday Season

November 28, 2012

From canned-food and toy drives to collecting school supplies for children in Nicaragua, UC Merced students, staff and faculty have found many ways to make sure others have happier holidays this year.

For the third consecutive year, members of Kappa Sigma fraternity fanned out across Merced the week before Thanksgiving to collect canned and nonperishable foods for the Merced County Food Bank. The fraternity collected nearly 2,500 pounds of food -- about 200 pounds more than last year.

UC Merced’s Staff Assembly is in the midst of its annual canned-food drive, which continues through Dec. 7.

“It’s going really well,” Staff Assembly President Rachael Martin said. This year’s food drive also benefits the county food bank. “Staff has a genuine sense of wanting to give back and the Merced County Food Bank is always grateful to receive the donation.”

Blue barrels stand in 14 locations across campus and at The Promenade, Castle and the Mondo Building to collect donations. And, like Kappa Sigma, Staff Assembly hopes to collect more food than last year.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Chancellor has agreed to donate $1 for each pound of food collected, up to $500. Donations also will be accepted at the next First Wednesday and First Friday coffee hour events on Dec. 5 and Dec. 7.

The Office of Student Life hopes to make the season brighter for local children through its annual toy drive, which ends Dec. 3. The office is collecting new, unwrapped toys for children of all ages. This year’s OSL toy drive benefits All Dads Matter, a program for fathers through the Merced County Human Services Agency.

“We’ve seen so many single parents who are struggling,” said Student Life Programs Manager Enrique Guzman, toy-drive organizer. “In these hard economic times, any help they can get is appreciated.”

Toys that encourage family time between parents and children are especially welcome, but even a $5 gift can make a difference in a child’s life, Guzman said. OSL will host a wrapping party Dec. 5 and toys will be distributed Dec. 8. Donations can be taken to the Office of Student Life in KL 184.

Another holiday toy drive, organized by the Office of the Chancellor with participation from Staff Assembly, is scheduled from 2 to 3 p.m. Dec. 19 outside Lakireddy Auditorium, following the fall semester Town Hall open forum from 1 to 2 p.m. Staff and faculty can drop off wrapped toys, mingle with colleagues and enjoy hot chocolate and cider. The Holiday Toy Drive benefits Children's Hospital Central California in Madera. 

Toys and food aren’t the only items being collected this season. The Merced North Soroptimist Club is collecting school supplies – pencils, paper, notepads, erasers, books in Spanish and other basic items -- for children in Somoto, Nicaragua, Merced’s sister city, said Lisa Silveira. The club is accepting supplies until Dec. 15 and has donation boxes in several locations: the Students First Center, the Office of Student Life, the third floor administrative wing of Kolligian Library and the Department of Public Safety office.  

The holiday giving efforts are a prelude to the 2012-13 United Way campaign, which kicks off Jan. 15. Since 2001, UC Merced has managed an annual campaign to raise funds for the United Way of Merced County. The campus campaign strives to increase faculty, staff and student awareness of, and support for, the needs of others in the community and is another example of UC Merced’s continuing commitment to public service.