Two college women took it upon themselves to organize a winter clothing drive, fraternity members dodged water balloons and hauled turkeys into delivery trucks to raise money, and clubs in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences competed to see who could donate the most canned food.
In the few weeks before Thanksgiving, students around town and on campus have been volunteering and donating resources to help those in need. Many people get into the spirit of donating because of the season, but these students felt compelled to help in the general spirit of wanting to aid the community.
The Prado Day Center is one organization receiving donations from Cal Poly students. The center assists more than 100 homeless people in San Luis Obispo every day by offering shower facilities, job assistance, medical services and more. Maureen Cusick, a five-year volunteer at the center, said it’s not uncommon to see students volunteering.
“A lot of times, kids have done things where it’s a class requirement, but I have seen people do it for the class but still come back on their own time,” Cusick said.
Although the majority of the generosity this season takes place in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Cal Poly journalism senior Eva Sanders and her roommate, Cuesta sophomore Erika Anderson first thought of having the Warm a Cold Shoulder winter clothing drive after noticing the homeless people around San Luis Obispo during summer. Sanders said she wondered how they stayed warm during cold winter nights. Sanders and Anderson got the word out about their clothing drive by posting invites on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The two also walked through neighborhoods delivering fliers and paper bags. From neighborhoods alone, they collected 50 trash bags full of clothing and almost 150 more after setting up a drop-off location at Meadow Park Nov. 21. All proceeds went to the Prado Day Center and a Grassroots center in Los Osos.
“We had a better, more enthusiastic reception than we could have imagined. It’s just so cool that so many people want to give and so many people want to help,” Sanders said.
“We’re hoping to make as many people as warm as possible.”
The fraternity members of Alpha Epsilon Pi wanted to add flare to their donation event. The fraternity wanted to do something a little more creative this year to not only get participants, but to also make the event fun and effective. When a brainstorming session of donation ideas yielded a Turkey Shootout, it seemed like the perfect option. The fraternity members built Mayflower and Plymouth Rock replicas to hide behind while dressed as pilgrims, ears of corn and turkeys.
Community members paid $3 for five water balloons and all the proceeds went to the SLO Food Bank, a group that helps deliver almost 4.5 million pounds of food a year to the homeless and low-income seniors and families on the Central Coast. Fraternity president Jordan Leib said the club raised $300-$400. He hopes to continue it next year.”It was a really good time. We had dozens of people come out throughout the day, and we’re going to try to build it up for next year so that we can make it bigger for the food bank,” Leib said. “We liked what happened, and we think we can make it really good for next year.”
The members of Zeta Beta Tau participated in a turkey drive Nov. 13. The event was sponsored by local news station KCOY. Volunteers collected over $10,000, 300 turkeys and 12-15 bins of canned food and other nonperishable items. The fraternity members worked all day to load turkeys onto trucks at Sierra Vista Hospital and collect food in bins at grocery stores. Fraternity vice-president Grant Frick said a lot of the donations came from anonymous doctors, radio stations, news stations, community members and the hospital CEO, who matched the $1,500 donated by doctors. Individual fraternities and sororities also donated approximately 40 turkeys to the drive. In addition to helping at the event, fraternity members donated four turkeys and nonperishable food items from their homes. Frick said he was ecstatic with the success of the turkey drive and everyone’s willingness to help. All the proceeds went to the food bank.
“I was really proud of the whole greek system for coming through as much as they did. And with the city,” he said. “That’s a lot of money, that’s a lot of turkeys. I was overjoyed.”
Even though philanthropy is strongly encouraged in the greek system, Frick said Zeta Beta Tau chose to get involved in the turkey drive because the fraternity wants to share with others the blessings they have.
“I think it’s important to give back during all times of the year, and one of the main focuses of the fraternity is to give back,” he said. “We do things during other times of the year, you just don’t hear about them.”
The Collegiate Future Farmers of America (CFFA) also take pride in their yearly canned food drive, the proceeds of which go to the food bank. The contest is held between the clubs in the CAFES to donate canned food in bins located around the Alan A. Erhart Agriculture building. The winners are based on the weight of the club’s bin and its decoration. Club member Ellie Michel said that although each club would love to have the bragging rights associated with being the winner, their main focus is to donate as much as possible.
“We try to do our part as well as we can as college students, but it’s definitely important that we help out the local community,” Michel said.
Even though donation events are most acknowledged during the holiday season, Leib would encourage students and other community members to give back throughout the year.
“If you can, then why not?” Leib said. “You should always be trying to help out people that are less fortunate than you. This is the time to remind ourselves what’s important in life and try to help out whoever we can.”