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Holiday spirit: Students help in local and global initiatives

Although it’s exam time, many students at U of T Scarborough are showing their holiday spirit by organizing and taking part in charitable activities on campus. Here’s a roundup of five of these generous initiatives:

Food and Clothing Drive        

Seven student associations at U of T Scarborough are collaborating, with a goal of collecting 3,000 food items and 300 clothing items. All donations benefit the Daily Bread Food Bank, West Hill Community Services, and Street Support. Headed by the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) Meal Exchange Subcommittee, The Student Volunteer Program, and the SCSU charity subcommittee, the drive has spread to include other student clubs such as UNICEF UTSC, and The Student Mentorship Program, which were also collecting food and clothing during the holiday season.

Members of the drive have canvassed the campus residence for non-perishable food. Coordinator Lynn Zhu believes this boosts the food drive, which has picked up slowly during the exam preparation period.

“Whatever clothing we get in December will be sent [to Street Support],” according to subcommittee chair Heather Wong, who said the students are striving to respond promptly to the need for warm clothing as the temperature drops.

The organizers plan to reopen the Food and Clothing Drive in January, saying that they believe donations will increase when more students are on campus and finished with exams. Donations can be made at the Athletic Centre, the H-Wing Marketplace, the SCSU Office, and the Student Centre. 

Operation Christmas Child       

A shoebox filled with school supplies, hygiene items, and toys may be the only gift a disadvantaged child gets this holiday season. In mid-November, students living on residence prepared such shoebox gifts in support of Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest children’s Christmas project. Organized by Samaritan’s Purse, the shoebox gifts will be delivered to 14 developing countries this year.

“[For children who have] known violence and have witnessed humans destroy each other, it is comforting to receive a gift of kindness,” said Elizabeta Liguric, vice-president of the International Development Studies Student Association (IDSSA).

Having received a shoebox gift at age seven while she was living in Croatia, Liguric understands firsthand the pleasure these shoebox gifts can bring, and she ensured that IDSSA headed this initiative on campus this year.

Liguric plans for IDSSA to continue organizing the annual operation, and to extend it to the rest of campus.

Books For Africa     

U of T Scarborough is also helping to end famine -- of a bookish nature. The Life Sciences Students Union’s (LSSU) second fall book drive, benefiting Books For Africa (BFA), ends this month, when books will be shipped to agencies in Africa for distribution.

“When it comes to monetary donations, students may not have much to give. What we do have, however, is an abundance of used course books,” explained book drive organizer Melody Hui. Last year, LSSU’s book drive shipped over 60 boxes of books, and this year volunteers will visit Professors’ offices to collect books.

Books for Africa was inspired by its founder’s 1988 visit to an empty-shelved library in Uganda. Since then, it has shipped more than 13 million books. Book collection sites include the LSSU office, Foley Hall Residence, the H-Wing, and the campus bookstore.

MESA Food Holiday Drive        

There’s a personal twist to the Management and Economics Students' Association (MESA) holiday food drive. Besides donating food items in the Management Wing to benefit the Daily Bread Food Bank, students are invited to post their season’s greeting or holiday wishes on MESA’s display wall.

“The holiday season is about spreading joy, and the best way to do that is to let your friends know,” explained Dev Basu, MESA’s Business Development Manager and the food drive’s organizer.

With the drive ending on Dec. 8, Basu plans to reopen the food drive in January, when he believes the high student traffic at the term’s start will increase food donations.

Rotaract Toy Drive 

If you’re a child, what is Christmas without toys? Until Dec. 18, Rotaract and campus police services are organizing a toy drive to benefit the 40th-annual CHUMCity Christmas Wish Foundation. Toys will be distributed to children in need across the GTA. Collection boxes for new, packaged toys are in the campus’ Parking Services (S-303), Retail and Hospitality services (S-300), the Management Co-op Office (MW-270), the SCSU office, and the Registrars Office. 

Rotaract also plans to collect used toys for the Canadian Diabetes Association from Dec. 4 to 21. Sponsored by the Rotary Club, Rotaract provides service programs for those aged 18 to 30.

Denise Tse is a second-year student in the journalism program offered by the University of Toronto Scarborough and Centennial College.

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