The spirit of generosity: holiday giving is a longstanding tradition on campus

Here is a sampling of the toys donated to the Student Volunteer Center for distribution in Santa Cruz County.

Holiday giving is an enduring tradition at UC Santa Cruz; socially conscious students, faculty, and staff members have broken records for giving year after year and come out in droves to support Santa Cruz County families in need.

It is all part of an enduring tradition of generosity, and this year is no exception.

Helping a food bank in a time of need

This year the UCSC community is stepping up once again to help agencies including Second Harvest Food Bank, which has found a way to provide four healthy meals with every dollar given to the organization.

This year, the campus goal for Second Harvest is 100,000 meals’ worth of food and donations, a dramatic increase over previous years.

Staff Advisory Board chairman John Steele, who has been involved with the Second Harvest fundraiser on campus for five years, is hoping for a large number of whole foods that produce “high-quality” calories for families including fresh fruit and vegetables.

Friendly competition between UCSC and other donors, helped ramp up giving to the food bank.

“We have doubled our donation goals the last two years running,” said Steele, a programmer/analyst for UCSC’s Information Technology Services. “We went from 30,000 meals three years ago to 60,000 two years ago and 120,000 last year.  We have taken home three awards in the last two years.”

The barrels will be taken away on Friday, and the food will be distributed between January and March. UCSC community members may contribute online or send checks to the food bank or go to the campus food drive page for more information.

UCSC’s University Relations staff members did their part to help the cause. Staff members donated the equivalent of 3,000 meals to feed the hungry through an in-office raffle.

Stepping up for the United Way

Last year, 240 UCSC faculty and staff donated $44,000 to the United Way, making us one of the largest workplace donors in Santa Cruz County.

This year the campus will continue to support an agency that helps ensure that children will succeed in school and life, families will become more financially stable, and both children and adults will receive the health care they need.

To contribute online via payroll deduction, credit card, check, cash, or stock, visit  Alternatively, donors may use the donation envelopes that have arrived through their campus mailstops.  For those who contribute through a payroll deduction, it will automatically renew for 2014, or it can be changed using an online form.

A season for toys

Economic hard times have made it tougher for already maxed-out families. When it’s hard enough to pay rent bills, it’s all but impossible to set aside money for children’s Christmas gifts.

But the UCSC Fire Department has a long history of involvement with Toys For Tots, now in its 25th year of service in Santa Cruz County.

The department been an enthusiastic and reliable partner for this program, helping to ensure that members of the local community, as well as the children of UCSC undergraduates and grad school students living in Family Student Housing, have the toys they need for the holidays.

Rosemary Anderson, UCSC’s business continuity planner, said the campus works hard to fulfill toy and gift wishes for any family that needs them.

Anderson said student organizations have a strong sense of stewardship and responsibility toward the community at large. “Students have done an amazing job of stepping up,” she said. “There is a strong sense of taking care of our own, and also taking care of the wider community.”

Those who wish to contribute toys may take them directly to UCSC’s fire department on campus or contact Anderson this week at

Giving Trees on campus

The student-run and funded Student Volunteer Center (SVC), always comes through for the community with its “Giving Tree” holiday gift drive, and this year was no exception. 

The decorative Giving Tree displays sprouted up all over campus, each including a ‘wish list’ of desired items and the recipient’s first name. Community members were asked to join in the drive by selecting an ornament and then buying some or all of the mentioned items.  

In partnership with the Walnut Avenue Women's Center and the Jesus, Mary and Joseph Home, the volunteer center collected a total of 350 gifts this holiday season, including warm clothes, toys, and other much-needed items for needy families this holiday season. They were delivered to about 80 children.