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Islanders plan day to give back to community

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KEANNA WHISENHUNT 
Contributing Writer

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi staff and faculty will unite to serve the Coastal Bend communities and Island University for #GivingTuesday on Nov. 28.

The Division of Student Engagement and Success will provide a wide range of community service venues for Islander staff and faculty to get involved on the national day of giving, which occurs every year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. Paying homage to the meaning of Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday is celebrated around the world in efforts to make a difference.

“It’s an international day of community service when volunteers go out and give back to their community,” said Ann DeGaish, associate vice president of Student Engagement & Success. “Essentially, they are giving their time to different agencies in town, or organizations that just need some assistance, but it’s tied to a much bigger program. It’s not just something local, it’s international.”

#GivingTuesday started in 2012 and is entering its sixth year as a global day for families, friends, churches, schools and businesses to collaborate, connect and cultivate impact. The Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact established #GivingTuesday to motivate and inspire people to give back.

“It goes back to our Momentum 2020 plan and in that we talk about being engaged in community and being connected to our community,” DeGaish said. “We were trying to find a way of doing that and this was the perfect program because we have a lot of individuals who want to do service like this. They really enjoy doing volunteer work and it works well with what our faculty and staff like to do.”

DeGaish said #GivingTuesday is an opportunity for the university staff and faculty members to give back to a community that has supported the Island University continuously. The university began taking part in the global movement four years ago, and has been committed ever since.

“Last year we had 125 [volunteers] and it was about 350 hours of community service completed in that one day,” DeGaish said.

Volunteers will have an opportunity to fulfill a variety of needs with many organizations in the community. The Coastal Bend Food Bank, Gulf Coast Humane Society, Women’s Shelter, Glenoak Therapeutic Riding Center and Mission 911 are a few organizations that will need volunteers. Hurricane Harvey recovery opportunities will be available in Rockport, Port Aransas and the Coastal Bend. Staff and faculty will also be able to spend #GivingTuesday staffing donation tables on campus for Izzy’s Food Pantry.

“We set it as a goal to bring [Izzy’s Food Pantry] to students here on this campus,” said Dr. Lisa Perez, associate vice president of Student Life.

In partnership with the Coastal Bend Food Bank, Izzy’s Food Pantry provides food assistance to Islander students with an accessible selection of non-perishable goods. In efforts to prevent and acknowledge food insecurity, Perez says the food bank offers students a safe place to get the nutritional resources they need.

“We’ve been able to serve over 100 students thus far and we rely a lot on donations,” Perez said.

Perez said any donation, whether it’s food or a monetary gift, makes a difference. This is the first year Izzy’s Food Bank will participate in #GivingTuesday.

Staff and Faculty who registered for #GivingTuesday will be provided T-shirts to wear at their volunteer activity and will assist with any immediate needs of their assigned organization. These tasks will range from donation sorting, cleaning and storage supply to gift-wrapping, holiday decorating and staffing tables.

“Being out there in the community and giving some of our time to show our appreciation to everybody that supports this university is great and we can do that very hands-on by going to these different agencies that serve our community and in some cases serve our students,” DeGaish said. “Part of that is to say ‘thank you’ to them but to also help them reach their goals.”

According to their website, #GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.

“To see them out working together and people who have never worked together before doing something positive for our community, it’s really cool to see the impact that we can have when we put our energy into that,” DeGaish said.

All registration forms must be submitted by Nov. 17. For more information on registering for #GivingTuesday and its other service locations, visit their website: www.givingtuesday.org.

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