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Campus-wide Donation Drive hopes year 10 is #1
Monday, November 16, 2009

Dec. 4 will mark the 10th anniversary of the SUNY Fredonia Campus-wide Donation Drive, an annual event in which the campus community bonds together to provide new or used toys and clothing and non-perishable food to those in need in the community.

“Wow, has it been 10 years already?” said Victoria West, assistant director of the Learning Center and one of the original volunteers of the event. “I can still picture the vehicle pulling away from that first drive; it was so full, the back end was practically dragging on its tires.”

Student Ally Ryan volunteers at last year's Campus-wide Donation Drive, which raised 60 bags of clothes, 40 boxes of food and 25 boxes of toys for two area human service organizations.

When it began in 1999, various groups and departments on campus held individual holiday drives, which caused somewhat of an imbalance of donations to community organizations, not to mention the redundancies of resources and effort. Enter Tracy Stenger, whose work for the campus Counseling Center had given her many contacts with outside human service agencies. She recognized it was time for a unified, campus-wide effort to help those in need during such a difficult time of year.

“There has always been a rich spirit of giving on our campus, and it felt like a great idea to see how we could tap into that and provide something to those in the area who may be in need,” said Strenger.

The Chautauqua County Holiday Caregivers Coalition, which was made up of various organizations in the community, including the Chautauqua Rural Ministries and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Youth Organization, was a perfect way to evenly distribute goods to the community.

“I remember Tracy saying she hoped it would be something that would take on a life of its own, and looking at each year’s numbers, it clearly has,” West added. “This all started before the office of Volunteer Services even existed.”

Although the structure of the coalition is no longer intact today, the donated items are still equally divided among various community organizations, thanks to Sam Mancuso.

Mr. Mancuso, of Mancuso Landscaping, has essentially become the “official” pick-up and delivery man for the Donation Drive, having donated his time and equipment to transport all the items to the organizations since day one.

While Mancuso’s role hasn’t changed since day one, the drive’s coordinators have — with Julie Bezek, coordinator of the SAVP (Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention) program within the campus Counseling Center, and Stephanie Wares, an advisor at the Academic Advising Center, stepping in as Stenger’s responsibilities evolved over the years.

“I'm really looking forward to the donation drive this year. Every year we are so amazed at the amount of donations we receive.  Our goals are always exceeded — above and beyond,” said Wares who, along with Bezek, led a remarkable effort last year. Despite a snow storm, 65 student, faculty, and staff volunteers helped collect 60 gallon-sized bags of clothing, 40 boxes of food, and 25 boxes of toys to donate to the Chautauqua Rural Ministries and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Youth Organization, both of which will be the beneficiaries of this year’s drive as well.

As with every year, the organizing team is not only looking for donations, but for volunteers as well who are needed to help pick up, sort and package the donations. Organizers also need boxes to be donated to prepare the items for final delivery.

“We are very grateful for our volunteers. Without them, the drive could not be successful,” said Bezek.

Volunteers will accept donations in Room G-138 of the Williams Center between 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4.

Faculty and staff are asked to put donations outside their offices by noon on Dec. 4 so that volunteers can stop by and pick them up.  Residential students are asked to put donations in the lobby of their building in the box labeled, “Campus-wide Donation Drive” by 9 a.m. that day.

For more information about specific items of need or to volunteer, call the Counseling Center at (716) 307-3424 or visit

Ways to donate:

  • Faculty and Staff - Put donations outside your office door by noon on Friday, 12/4. Volunteers will stop by to pick them up.**
  • McEwen Hall: Items should be left at the Communication Department Office (324 McEwen)
  • Rockefeller Arts Center: Items should be left in the Art Gallery Lobby
  • Steele/Dods: Items should be left at the Athletics Office (123 Dods)
  • Reed Library: Items should be left in the library lobby
  • Residential Students - Put donations in the lobby of your building in the box labeled Campus-Wide Donation Drive by 9:00am on Friday, 12/4
  • OR, Stop by Williams Center G-138 between 9:00am – 3:00pm on Friday, 12/4 to drop off donations.

The Campus-wide Donation Drive is co-sponsored by the SUNY Fredonia Counseling Center, Academic Advising, Residence Life, Custodial Services, Volunteer Services and Student Affairs offices.

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