Campus comes through for the less fortunate during holiday season

UCSC community members came through with a big stash of gifts to be distrubuted through Toys for Tots this year.
There was very little room left over in this car after volunteers stuffed it with holiday gifts.

UC Santa Cruz community members demonstrated their generosity once again during the holiday season, stepping up to feed hungry families, distribute toys, and raise funds for social services agencies.

This year, UCSC volunteers set a highly ambitious goal to collect 100,00 meals’ worth of food and donations for the Second Harvest Food Bank, a dramatic increase over previous years.

The volunteers exceeded that goal,  collecting a total of 125,000 meals for the food bank. The food will be distributed through March.

Food drive chairman John Steele called the amount “a phenomenal number.”

Steele said that raffle and online donations continue to grow every year.

The campus campaign has been able to build steadily on past successes and hard work, going from 30,000 meals three years ago to 60,000 two years ago and 120,000 last year for the food bank, which is the first in California and the second oldest in the nation, distributing more than seven million pounds of food every year.

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.

Meanwhile, Rosemary Anderson, UCSC’s business continuity planner, said that UCSC staff showed their generosity once again during the on-campus Toys For Tots program, which helped ensure that members of the local community, as well as the children of UCSC undergraduates and grad school students living in Family Student Housing, had the toys they need for the holidays.

“Our first priority to was to make sure our UCSC families were provided for,” Anderson said. “We were able to fulfill at least one of every Family Student Housing child's gift wish, and in some cases all three. The rest of the toys collected were distributed throughout the Santa Cruz community by both UCSC and Santa Cruz City Fire Firefighters.”

Through its “Giving Tree” holiday program, the student-run and funded Student Volunteer Center (SVC), also did its part for the community. In partnership with the Walnut Avenue Women's Center and the Jesus, Mary and Joseph Home, the 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.

While it’s too early to gauge the results of UCSC’s participation in United Way’s holiday fundraiser, credit card donations were up tenfold. Also, this year, the campus campaign included a table at a campus holiday party, allowing it to receive cash donations. Campaign totals should be available in February.