SUNY Oswego community shares in season of giving

The holiday season magnifies the donations of time, talent, necessities and money among many in the SUNY Oswego community.

Students at Baskets of Caring event.Turkeys and toys, clothing and canned goods, money and man-hours—college faculty, staff and students contribute them all, in profusion, in this season of giving.

The charitable appeals are creative, caring and numerous: polar plunges and silent auctions, bus trips and dinners, raffles and parties—and, of course, volunteerism.

The largest single campaign is the State Employees Federated Appeal, where the goal this year is $40,000.

“I think we’ve been very fortunate with the response from people on campus,” Bob Casper said last week. He is director of career services and one of 15 campus employees on the appeal’s central planning committee. “We’re certainly very encouraged that we’ve raised nearly $19,000 so far, but we’re getting nervous about reaching our goal. We hope that folks who have never given before will help.”

Designating contributions

SEFA is a statewide effort that last year raised more than $10 million for the agencies it serves. The SUNY Oswego drive, which usually wraps up about Jan. 31, is affiliated with United Way, an umbrella agency benefiting two dozen area not-for-profit organizations, from Oswego County Opportunities to the Girl Scout Council of Central New York.

Employees may designate their contributions to one or more of the agencies, or not designate and see their gift distributed among all SEFA agencies. Workers are also encouraged to volunteer to help SEFA, or any of the charitable organizations.

“There are many people involved in contributing to SEFA/United Way,” Casper said, “and many more involved in working directly for food pantries, soup kitchens and other helping programs. Just making a call to an organization is a way to get started volunteering your time.”

Payroll deduction comprises a large portion of the contributions, but cash gifts and proceeds of a “Baskets of Caring” auction, a costume contest, a bakeoff, a Dec. 10 food drive, a Dec. 11 holiday bus trip to New York City, a Dec. 12 holiday skate with members of the college’s men’s and women’s hockey teams and more add to the amount.

Helping hands

Many other campus groups raise funds and gather necessities for charities, including:

* The college has launched its 23rd annual Toy Drive, in cooperation with the Oswego County Department of Social Service, with a goal of ensuring each child in the county has a gift to open this holiday season. Trees have sprouted in buildings on campus, bearing ornaments with children’s name, age and gender. Donors buy an appropriate gift, attach the ornament and return the unwrapped gift.

* Alyssa Amyotte, coordinator of service learning and community service, listed some of the student organizations doing holiday campaigns: Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity gathered food and clothing for the Salvation Army. The women’s rugby club team collected winter clothes for a Syracuse shelter. Vega honor society took the lead on a partnership between SUNY Oswego and Foster Adoptive Parent Association of Oswego County to raise money and help with a holiday party. Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity collected money for turkeys. And the Center for Service Learning and Community Service office helped with food, games, arts and crafts for a holiday event for Oswego County BOCES’ Migrant Education Outreach Program.

* The Newman Center near campus gathered canned goods and monetary donations to benefit area food pantries, in conjunction with the center’s Thanksgiving dinner for college students. “This gives us a chance to celebrate the giving community we have in Oswego,” said Michael Huynh, director of campus ministry at the Newman Center, which also does a drive to collect money for turkeys.

* Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity sold snacks and sundries to benefit Kindred Kingdoms, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Pennellville.

* Riann Warren, co-president of the college’s Red Cross Club, and club member Brian Donegan plan to take the Polar Plunge on Friday, Dec. 5, at Oneida Shores. Psi Phi Gamma brothers also raised money to make the icy leap, to benefit Special Olympics.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Basket bidding—SEFA/United Way offered “Baskets of Caring” for bid in the SUNY Oswego Campus Center corridor. Looking at baskets are freshmen, from left, Ryan Tibbetts, a meteorology major; Jade Thompson, a marketing major; and Christina Sanborn, who has not declared a major. Staffed by the Alpha Sigma Chi sorority, the program raised $2,300 toward the campaign’s $40,000 goal.

(Posted: Nov 24, 2010)

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