Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications
It’s no secret that, with the down economy and high unemployment rates, many San Diego residents are facing financial hardship, and the holidays can be an especially challenging time of year. It’s also a difficult time for nonprofit organizations, which are experiencing an increase in demand for their services just when the economy is making fundraising more challenging. To help address the needs in our local community, UC San Diego students, staff and faculty are participating in a variety of outreach initiatives—from toy drives and food collections to remembering veterans—to help San Diegans have a more joyful holiday season.
Throughout the year, public service is a common value shared at UC San Diego. For two consecutive years, the university has been named to President Obama’s Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and UC San Diego is ranked No. 1 in the nation by Washington Monthly for its positive impact on the country. Last year, the university established Volunteer50 to help connect the campus community with year-round service projects.
This season, UC San Diego kicked off its holiday outreach efforts by participating in the fourth annual Colleges Rock Hunger Food Drive, donating approximately 2,400 pounds of food to the Food Bank. In addition, last Saturday the Triton Athletes’ Council delivered presents, food and gift certificates to 13 needy families in San Diego as part of an Adopt-a-Family program.
Currently underway, the service-oriented fraternity Alpha Phi Omega is leading “Operation Santa,” an annual fundraising effort to help families in need throughout San Diego County. So far, students and volunteers have wrapped more than 100 presents for families, including many families led by single mothers who are victims of domestic violence, facing illness or experiencing the loss of a family member.
“We can really see the positive impact of our work on these families when we deliver the gifts in person,” said Alpha Phi Omega organizer Miller Huang. “I was fortunate enough to believe in Santa Claus and to have something to open on Christmas Day during my childhood. I want to help as many kids as possible get the same experience.”
Another campus outreach initiatives to get involved with this season is the department of psychiatry’s 12th Annual Toy Drive for the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Inpatient Program (CAPS). CAPS is a department of psychiatry facility that offers in-patient treatment services for children and adolescents who suffer from acute emotional and behavioral problems. For many of the children, the gifts provided by this toy drive are the only gifts received during the holidays. The toys collected during the holiday drive are also used throughout the year for birthdays and as incentives for good behavior.
“For the last eleven years, with generous donations from the employees in our department, we have been able to successfully fill a large car full of toys, games, books, clothes and toiletries for the children and teenagers at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services,” said Ling Zenter, human resources manager at the department of psychiatry. “We are all extremely busy this time of year, but it is so rewarding to see how our efforts in the annual toy drive make a difference in these children’s lives, during some very emotionally challenging times for them.”
Here is a sampling of holiday campus initiatives that you can get involved with:
From toy drives and food collections to volunteering at a wreath-laying ceremony for veterans, there are many ways that you can join the campus community in giving back this holiday season.
Alumni and Constituent Engagement Adopt-a-Family for the Holidays
Birch Aquarium Adopt-A-Fish
This holiday season, Birch Aquarium invites the community to remember local marine life. With a gift of $25, you can “Adopt-A-Fish” and help the Aquarium keep its fish thriving and support its successful breeding programs. Each “Adopt-A-Fish” gift comes with an adoption certificate, fish fun facts and a photo of your chosen fish. For more information, visit http://www.aquarium.ucsd.edu/Members_and_Friends/Adopt_a_Fish/.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography Holiday Drive
Staff Association Holiday Toy Drive
Toy Drive for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Service
TritonCare Drive for Rachel’s Women’s Center
TritonCare Feeding America San Diego
Veterans Association Clothing Drive for Homeless Veterans
Veterans Association Wreaths Across America
UC San Diego is proud of the generosity and dedication to service that students, staff and faculty are demonstrating this holiday season, and throughout the year. Your support is making a positive impact in the San Diego community, and beyond. Thank you and happy holidays!
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