Sharing warmth with those less fortunate

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

Attention students: winter accessories will soon invade The Union. Students that see any suspicious coat, mitten or boot, should turn in the perpetrator at the University Program Council’s booth on Main Street.

Stephanie Cooper, the UPC coordinator in charge of rounding up the apparel miscreants, said the invasion is part of this year’s Share the Warmth clothing drive. Students, organizations, faculty and staff are all encouraged to gather bundles of adult and children’s coats, boots, hats, mittens and scarves to donate to underprivileged members of the Brookings community.

New or gently used garments can be dropped off Oct. 6 through 10 from noon to 2 p.m. on Main Street or at anytime during those dates at one of the residence halls, excluding Berg and Bailey, or any school in the Brookings School District. Cooper said it is important to collect the winter accessories now, so people get the clothes they need before South Dakota’s unforgiving winter sets in.

“We all know from experience as South Dakota residents that winters get briskly cold very quickly, and for this reason, we want to make sure that people are equipped with warm clothing before the winter weather hits,” the junior Spanish and biology major said.

For Brookings, the average temperature in October is 46 degrees, and the temperature drops to an average 10 degrees during January, according to the Country Studies Web site published by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress.

Although the winter garments do not have to be new, Cooper asks that donations be something that students themselves would actually wear.

“Gently used clothing is fine; however, if you wouldn’t wear it, don’t expect that someone else would. As far as being in style, quality clothing is more important than the latest trends.”

Handmade accessories are also acceptable.

“If students enjoy knitting or crocheting, we would be happy to collect those items. Putting a handmade touch on your donation would be a really cool thing.”

This is the second year that UPC is sponsoring the Share the Warmth clothing drive. Last year, 66 adult coats, 111 children’s coats, 52 pairs of boots and numerous hats and mittens were distributed. This year, the Salvation Army and the Brookings High School FCCLA are teaming up with UPC to make the event more community-oriented. With the extra help, Coopers said she hopes the 2008 drive beats last year’s totals.

“I just hope it keeps getting better year after year,” she said.

In addition to partnering with community groups, Cooper has made a few other changes to the clothing drive. This year, the coats will be distributed in a store-like fashion. Cooper said the winter accessories will be organized into sections of size and gender, so people that need a winter coat can come “shop” for one. Distribution will take place at the Faith Reformed Church in Brookings, and any coats that are left over will be brought to the Banquet in Sioux Falls when the UPC volunteers there on Nov. 12.

UPC is also putting on a competition this year among the Greeks and any other interested groups. The contest is based on a scoring system – 10 points for adult coats and boots, eight points for children’s coats and boots and two points each for winter accessories, such as hats, mittens and scarves. The organization that receives the most points will receive a pizza party from Papa John’s, name recognition and a “Share the Warmth Golden Scarf” traveling trophy.

Cooper said there are many ways for students to get involved with this year’s drive. Volunteers are needed to help accept donations and get the donations ready for distribution.

“With almost 12,000 students, SDSU is a large part of Brookings, and it is really important to show that we care about not only our school, but also our community.”

Nathan Bylander, president of the Greek Programming Council, agreed.

“I think it sounds like a great opportunity for Greeks to get involved in their community and work with other university organizations like UPC.”