SMU Campuses Give Back to their Communities
The Samuel Merritt University community is once again heeding the call to brighten the holidays for those less fortunate.
Angels in the Community
For the past month students, staff, and faculty from the Oakland, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Sacramento campuses have been collecting holiday toys to donate to the Salvation Army. This is the fourth year the community has donated to the SMU Giving Tree program which builds on the legacy of the Salvation Army's 'Angel Tree' program that has been in operation for more than 40 years.
This year the program expanded beyond the Oakland campus to include the Sacramento Regional Learning, Center and the San Francisco and San Mateo Learning Centers. An estimated $600 in toys and other items were collected for families living in the four counties. The Salvation Army, a nonprofit agency, provided each campus with tags of names, ages, and wish lists for the children they serve year-round. Volunteers Kathryn Ward, Services Counselor for the San Mateo and San Francisco Learning Centers and Liza Osoteo, Admission Counselor for the Sacramento Regional Learning Center, also worked with Salvation Army branches in their respective communities to collect toys as well as items of necessity for the elderly.
"Even when our students are busy, I'm always impressed with how generous they are with their time, especially when it comes to serving their community and those less fortunate," says Osoteo. "They didn't even hesitate to participate in a toy drive - within a few days they got the all the gift tags from the tree and filled the barrel to the rim. That's typical of our students, they're just compassionate individuals."
"Even during this challenging economy, the generosity and enthusiasm of our students, faculty and staff remains strong," adds Janessa Reinblatt, Assistant Director of Admissions and Student Information and Giving Tree organizer. "Thanks to our generous community, we are on target to collect as many toys and items, if not more, then we did last year."
"Some of these are families have come upon hard times, and are not able to have a Christmas for their family," explains Shirley Meyers, Salvation Army Administrative Assistance, and Volunteer Coordinator for the Oakland Garden Chapter. "The collection of gifts Samuel Merritt University has donated is helping the children to have a wonderful Christmas."
Feeding the Community
Toys are not the only donations SMU has provided. Each holiday season Carla Ross, Director of Alumni Affairs, and the staff of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Chaplaincy Services join forces to collect baskets of food for local families in need. The combined SMU and medical center collections yields nearly 200 food baskets, $3,000 in grocery gift cards and gifts for children and families. University donations were made by alumni, students, faculty and the staff.
"Helping others is what the holiday season is all about," says Ross. "Samuel Merritt University plays an important role in supporting the quality of life and economy of the surrounding communities. Every donation strengthens our relationship to Oakland and is appreciated in an especially meaningful way - one person, one family at a time."
"Thank you to all departments and staff who participated in this year's Holiday Basket program," adds Reverend Carrie L. Buckner, M. Division Director, Chaplain Services. "Over 400 families were served in our partnership with Parks Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and we look forward to next year."
Baskets were collected by Parks Chapel AME Church, which will distribute the baskets to families living in Oakland.
Community Action Connection
The Student Body Association and School of Nursing associate professor Joan Bard, EdD, RN, have also joined forces to help St. Vincent DePaul Society in Alameda County provide warmth for the homeless men and women in Oakland. The University has collected nearly 1000 articles of clothing ranging from coats, shirts, socks, pants and shoes.
Professor Bard has been donating clothing and volunteering her time with the nonprofit group for ten years and as an instructor in community health she says the need is great this year. "There are so many people in our community who are desperate for the warmth and the comfort a coat provides," adds Bard. "We are very grateful to everyone at Samuel Merritt University for their wonderful generosity which will make a huge difference in the lives of the poor and needy we serve."
St. Vincent DePaul is a nonprofit dedicated to meeting the needs of the poor by providing shelter, food, medical services, educational programs and job training opportunities. Philip Parca, Executive Director of St. Vincent DePaul of Alameda County, says the coat collection will go to their downtown campus in Oakland.
"We serve over a 1000 meals a day. In our Drop Center we have more than 40 men and over 30 women and children in our Women Center. These warm coats will not only keep many of them warm, but it is also the first connection we will make with them. We really appreciate all the great work Joan Bard and Samuel Merritt University has given us throughout the year.
View more photos from these stories.
Back to front page »