By Ryan Schreiber
During the holiday season, a number of Framingham State departments organized charity drives in order to benefit students in need and the local community.
Joining the effort was the Rams Resource Center (RRC), Center for Student Experience and Career Development, the Henry Whittemore Library, and University Police.
Starting off the season of giving, the RRC held an event Nov. 16 during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week to introduce students to its space.
The RRC is located under West Hall, on the ground level, and is accessible from Maynard Lot.
The RRC conducted a food drive Nov. 16 for which students, faculty members, or staff could donate canned goods or non-perishable items. The donation boxes were placed next to the information table as well as in the RRC.
Students were encouraged to donate meal swipes during the event using a QR code on flyers posted in the RRC and at the information table in the McCarthy Center lobby.
The RRC hosted an FSU coat share that allowed students to leave a coat or take a coat. This was placed so students who weren't able to afford a coat could take one to stay warm.
The coat rack appeared in the McCarthy Center lobby on Dec. 5. At the end of the day, there were over 17 coats left on the rack.
A sign next to the coat rack stated its purpose is to “provide basic needs to community members experiencing basic needs insecurity.”
Laura Abreu, a junior elementary education major, said, “I think it’s very helpful. Not everyone has the economic means or they don't have the resources to go out and get a coat or might not be able to afford a coat.”
Another charitable event was the 8th Annual Giving Tree.
“The Giving Tree is an annual event that the FSU faculty and staff participate in that gives holiday gifts to children in need,” said Kayleigh MacMaster, finance manager for the Center for Student Experience and Career Development.
MacMaster said, “We sign up through the MetroWest United Way, which puts on the Hope for the Holidays program each year. They provide us a list of children and their gift requests that we then distribute out to the FSU community.”
MacMaster sent out an email mid-November to staff and faculty informing them about the event.
According to the email, all gifts were due Dec. 2 and they were gifted to each child that each participant sponsored.
“FSU committed to sponsoring 75 children,” Novac said.
This event was in partnership with United Way. “United Way sent us a list of children they had to be sponsored. Although, there were many more that other community members [besides FSU] were able to sponsor through United Way,” Novac said.
According to the organization's website, United Way is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals, families, and children in need throughout the Greater Boston area.
Each child made a list of three items that they wanted. Among the items requested were toys, clothes, winter jackets, and household items, Novac said.
After all the gifts were brought to the Center for Student Experience and Career Development, MacMaster said, “I actually loaded my car up about four times to get all of the gifts to United Way down the road in Framingham. They are always so thankful and shocked to see the outpouring of support from FSU.”
Grace Swanson, a senior fashion design and retailing major, said, “I think they're really good for the community and it's a great way to give kids that are in families that are in hard situations the ability to still have Christmas joy.”
Another charitable event was a partnership between the Henry Whittemore Library and the University Police Department, which joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve in their holiday giving campaign, Toys for Tots.
Toys for Tots is a charity open to donations of toys for children in need during the holiday season.
Beginning Nov. 11, donation boxes were placed in the University Police lobby and the library lobby for the community to donate toys.
“Two hundred plus toys were donated,” said Sergeant Harry Singh.
The library has been conducting toy drives for the past three years starting in November 2020. In 2021, the library partnered with Wayside Youth and Family Support Network, González said.
On Dec. 8, The Stuff-A-Cruiser event took place at which the FSU police collected the toys from the station lobby as well as the library. Millie González, dean of the library, and many other library staff helped the police load toys into the back of a cruiser.
Singh said, “Thanks to the FSU community, both donation boxes were overflowing with toys.”
On the University Police’s Twitter account, photos were posted of the event thanking the community for the huge amount of toys they collected. “With your generosity and support, we gathered well over 200 toys!”
Singh said he dropped off the toys with other campus police agencies, along with their collections, at the distribution center located in Boston on Dec. 9.
González said she enjoys working with University Police on the Toys for Tots drive. “We were happy to work on it together and give back to the community.”
Altagracia Garcia Padilla, a senior biology major, said, “They’re very helpful because I am someone who’s in a very low-income family. Toy drives were the only reason why my little sister could get toys for Christmas.”
MacKenzie Wahl, a junior elementary education major, said, “I think that toy charity drives are great. A lot of people can’t afford gifts for their children for Christmas, and with those, they can get toys.”
Dyanna Johnson, a freshman sociology major, said, “I think donation drives are really good to gift the people who are in need. If you have too much of something that you’re not using every day, give it to someone who needs it. I feel like these are really useful - especially at FSU - because there are a lot of college students that are pretty much broke - me being one - that need help.”
Olivia Florestal, a sophomore psychology major, said, “It’s really important to give to people who have less and if you have it - donate it.”
Matthew Mori, a senior psychology major, said, “It’s great that we give back to people who are less fortunate. And the more drives we do, the better because it better serves underserved communities.”
Ray Dufresne, a junior English major, said, “It’s nice to see people get active in helping those who might need a little support. Times are tough right now and not everyone is as privileged as others, so it’s nice to see people give a helping hand rather than judgment.”
Kristen Hurlburt, a senior food and nutrition major, said, “I think involvement with the community is important. Kids in need definitely need help. Everyone deserves a nice Christmas.”
Flannery O’Connor, a senior health and wellness major, said, “It's a great way to help people in need. I think that we are doing a great job on campus trying to promote them and trying to get as many people as involved as we can.”
April Swain, a junior biology major, said, “I think it’s really cool that people can go out of their way to do nice things for others and it shows that there's still a lot of good people in the world.”
Singh said the University Police Department will participate in another fundraiser this semester. In May, “Officers and dispatchers will participate in the Dana Farber Drop It Challenge. All funds raised benefit cancer research and patient care.”
The Dana Farber: Drop It Challenge is a pledge to lose weight to raise money for cancer awareness.
President Nancy Niemi said, “I think that our participation in such events is wonderful.
“I am so glad that we have a university community that is willing to contribute to the needs of others,” she added. “That said, we need to make sure we are always working to create solutions to the issues of need - like hunger and poverty. So, yes, we need to keep contributing and participating, even as we think about more permanent solutions.”