In the spirit of the holidays, December offers many opportunities to spread joy through community service.
One way students and organizations can be involved is through a community-wide service called Project Joy.
SDSU students may have noticed the teddy bear trees in The Union, The Wellness Center and the Agricultural Heritage Museum. The bears contain simple gift ideas for students, organizations or faculty to shop for. Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at Information Exchange in The Union, at The Wellness Center or the Agriculture Heritage Museum. Gifts are being accepted through Dec. 11.
“Project Joy started in 2005 after previously being called the Angel Tree,” Chairperson Julie Wermers said. “It is more of a store environment; parents get to pick out the gifts for their families.”
Last year, Project Joy offered about 420 kids some extra Christmas joy, and this year, Wermers estimates that the program will touch 465 kids.
To encourage students who live on campus to donate, there is a competition amongst the residence halls.
“Last year, the dorms did an excellent job,” Wermers said. “They brought in $6,600 worth of gifts.”
Again this year there will be a pizza party provided for the residence hall that brings in the most presents. Students must bring the receipts with their gifts in order to receive credit towards the competition.
Gift items vary greatly from toys to clothing in all price ranges.
“There is a wide range of gift items,” Service-Learning Consultant Matthew Leibel said. “We are really trying to push clothing.”
For more information about Project Joy contact Cara Beers at 688-4330, Julie Wermers at 697-6106 or visit the Web site at www.projectjoybrookings.com.
Apart from Project Joy, students can help brighten Christmas for others through Share the Gift of Giving.
This project accepts more practical gifts for parents, such as lotions, candles or kitchen towels.
“During the holidays, the focus is on the kids, but we cannot forget about the parents,” Leibel said.
A more family-focused service the community offers is the Harvest Table. This free meal is served Monday nights at the First United Methodist Church in Brookings.
“I don’t know if it is the economy, the holidays or the weather, but we have a lot of people coming,” Coordinator Vonda Kirkham said.
Kirkham added that besides serving meals, the Harvest Table gives free groceries the last Monday of the month, free diapers and wipes every Monday. It also offers scheduled kids activities.
“Students studying leadership and management of non-profit organizations have been working with the Harvest Table to recruit and coordinate groups of student volunteers to plan and lead children’s activities for the past two semesters,” Dianne Nagy, service learning coordinator, said.
Students registered in LMNO 210 work to recruit volunteers.
Volunteers are always needed, and Kirkham said that more are needed on the Mondays when groceries are distributed. If large groups from campus would like to volunteer, she said they should call ahead of time. Contact First United Methodist Church for further information about meal scheduling and volunteering at 692-4345.
Other ways organizations can help the Harvest Table include donating non-perishable food items, paper and personal products and diapers and wipes.
“Cash donations are always welcome to fill in the gaps,” Kirkham said.