How to Give Back Before You Dig In

By Jake Myers

Youngstown State University student organizations are gearing up for the season with many opportunities for students to donate.

Carrie Anderson, assistant director of the Office of Student Activities, said that student groups begin the year with a lot of fundraising efforts and by this time they are looking for ways to give back.

“It is that time of year when people are thinking about other people for the holiday season and so they want to spread that cheer as much as they can,” Anderson said.

The season kicks off this week.

Angela Murphy, president of the American Marketing Association (AMA), said their holiday food drive for the Mahoning Valley Rescue Mission will take place during the entire month of November.

“Last year we did a winter clothing drive, but when we contacted the rescue mission this year they said they do not need any clothing this year; what they do need is food,” Murphy said. “So we are doing a canned food drive or any non-perishable items.”

Food collection boxes are already slated for Williamson College of Business Administration. There is pending approval for boxes to be located at Kilcawley Center and DeBartolo Hall as well.

Christina Yovick, graduate assistant for student activities, who also runs the Emerging Leaders program at YSU, said her group has something different to offer in the way of giving.

“Every November we hold a collection called the Giving Tree which is done in conjunction with Mahoning County Children’s Services,” Yovick said.

Children of poor families in the Mahoning Valley are the recipients of the Giving Tree.

“If it weren’t for this collection, they may not have gotten any other holiday gifts,” Yovick said.

Ornaments can be picked up 10-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, Nov. 9-13, in the lower arcade in Kilcawley, with the exception of Veterans Day.

“The ornaments on the tree will have the gender of the child and usually the caseworker will tell what kind of toy it is that the children will ask for, and there are a lot of cases where the children will ask for clothing,” Yovick said.

According to Yovick, teenagers are also recipients of the Giving Tree.

“Anyone is able to come to the giving tree, take an ornament and purchase a gift for a child at which time after they purchase it, they will return it back to the office of student activities,” Yovick said. “Friday Dec. 4 by 5 p.m. is my deadline.”

Students will need to give their name and email information in case they need a reminder.

“We will have four days to distribute 50 ornaments,” Yovick said.

The Giving Tree isn’t like Toys for Tots where any toy is donated; whoever takes an ornament will need to shop for the item that individual child has asked for.

There will be a Toys for Tots collection by National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) in November. The event will be in Kilcawley and will benefit local children.

Amanda Shuluga, president of NSCS, and Kara Whitman, secretary of NSCS, are excited about their group’s activities for the upcoming season.

Although details are still being ironed out, NSCS members will have several opportunities for giving.

“At the next member meeting, we will be making Christmas cards for the elderly and possibly for the kids at Akron Children’s Hospital. If we can, we are going to do letters to troops as well, but we have not heard back from our contact for that though,” Shuluga said. “We’re still trying.”

NSCS also has plans to work at a local soup kitchen, possibly the Rescue Mission or Second Harvest Food Bank.

“One of the reasons why we are thinking of volunteering at the soup kitchen is because it is a nice thing to do especially during the holiday season,” Shuluga said. “Thanksgiving is that family sort of holiday and sometimes people don’t really have that. So for us to be able to go out into the community and serve people, it gives them a sense of belonging when maybe they don’t have that at home.”

Although they are a closed group, NSCS is open to donations from YSU students.

“We are a closed group so it is more difficult for YSU students to help. One thing we wish to do is to reach out to other students at YSU,” Shuluga said. “Whether you are or are not a member of NSCS, If someone (friend of a member or whatever) would like to donate cards or help in any way [they can].”

There are other clothing and food donation opportunities as well.

“National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (H&H) is Nov. 16 to 22,” Anderson said. “I know we are running different things to raise awareness for that.”

According to the YSU events calendar, H&H Awareness Week events will be held Monday-Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Nov. 16-20 in 1053 arcade/hallway in Kilcawley Center.

Hallie McGee, co-chair of Greek Campus Life, said that their organization is having a canned food and clothing drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, to benefit the United Way.

“We will be having a table set up in the lower arcade of Kilcawley where students can bring canned food or articles of clothing,” McGee said.

They accept canned items plus boxed pasta (no ramen noodles), oatmeal, crackers, instant mashed potatoes, rice, stuffing mix, and boxed meals such as Hamburger Helper or macaroni and cheese.

They would also like donations of gently worn clothing.

Students who would like to get more involved with student organizations such as the ones listed above can click on the “student” tab once they log into the YSU portal. They can then scroll down the center of the page to “Get Involved” and choose the Student organization link below it.

Once on the activities page, click on the “Student Organizations” tab, then “Find a Group to Join” to research all of the organizations that are registered through YSU.

There are many ways to give this season whether involved in an organization or not.

“There are people out there at Thanksgiving that don’t have nearly as much as we have so if you are able to donate, do it,” Murphy said.

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