Unified We Serve partners with campus community to collect items for donations

Antoine Abou-Diwan

The Second Annual Clothing and Food Drive, sponsored by Unified We Serve, brought more than 13,000 items which covered the steps of the Oviatt Library Wednesday afternoon. Food, books, toys, and clothing was donated to Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND), a non-profit organization that provides services for families living below the poverty line. Photo Credit: Paul Kingsley / Photo Editor

Unified We Serve concluded its second annual clothing and food drive Wednesday.

The organization collected food, clothing and books for underprivileged families in the San Fernando Valley and displayed the items on the steps in front of the Oviatt Library.

“We want to show the campus the power we have, as a campus, when we come together,” said Justin Weiss, activities coordinator for Unified We Serve.

Before the event concluded, Unified We Serve had collected over 3,000 food items, more than 8,500 articles of clothing, more than 700 toys and more than 1,100 books, for a total that exceeded 13,750 items.

In order to collect so many items in two-and-a-half weeks, Unified We Serve had to mobilize the whole campus.  Unified We Serve partnered with Community Engagement, an organization that handles faculty affairs.  Over 100 Unified We Serve members, A.S., dorms, Greek organizations, students, faculty and staff donated items and volunteered their time.

“This is our first year targeting faculty and staff,” said Merri Whitelock, director of Community Engagement.  “We put up posters in department offices and sent out fliers.”

Chelsea Morgan, pre-CTVA major, said Unified We Serve had a booth for three weeks.

“We handed out bags and asked people to fill them with food or clothing,” said the 20-year-old.

Sorority and fraternity houses had competitions amongst each other to see who could collect the most items, Morgan added.

“We went around the dorms and asked for donations,” said Hannah Shamloo, 18, astrophysics major.

Weiss said 15 to 20 volunteers started counting the donations on Monday.

All items collected will be given to Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND), a non-profit organization that provides services for families living below the poverty line, Weiss said.

Richard Weinroth, director of the food bank at MEND, said more than 25,000 people are served by MEND every month. MEND distributes almost 10,000 pounds of food every day, and he has seen the number of people served more than double over the last two years, he said.

Weiss recognized a number of people and groups around campus for their donations.

Bayramian Hall yielded 480 items, more than any other location on campus.

Building 12 collected more items than any other dorm, with 249 items.

The Lambda Sigma Gamma sorority collected more donations than any other club on campus.  They collected 1,571 items.

The kinesiology department collected 480 items.

Hanna Khalifa, kinesiology major, collected more donations than any other student.  She delivered six carloads of items.

Susan Ghaemi, from the College of Health and Human Development, collected 52 items, more than any other staff member on campus.

Whitelock said almost one-third of the student population donated something.

Weiss said he wants to build on the momentum generated by this year’s event.

“We are looking to do this on an annual basis,” he said.  “We hope to double the donations next year.  Every item will go directly into the hands of families for the holiday season.”

Weiss said he is pleased with the event.

“The best thing for me is seeing the campus come together.  It warms my heart,” he said.  “The amount of clubs, faculty and students that came out for this is astronomical—we can’t name all who contributed but we appreciate every single one of them.”