FAYETTE, Iowa (December 18, 2009)— As the holiday spirit wafts through the halls of Upper Iowa University, it has once again prompted numerous acts of charitable giving and volunteerism among the faculty, staff, and students.
Twelve members of the University’s Financial Aid team volunteered at the Franklin Street Salvation Army in Waterloo on Wednesday, Dec. 16. In addition to stocking toys, they served as personal shoppers helping local citizens who had registered to take advantage of “The Christmas Toy Shop" at that location. In previous years, it has been reported that over 20,000 toys were collected and distributed to more than 2,700 needy children in Linn County alone.
According to Jobyna Johnston, UIU director of financial aid, this is the second year she and her staff have helped out, and they plan to continue serving during the holiday season as long as they are needed. “Knowing that we are helping others reminds us of the true meaning of the holidays,” said Johnston. “Sometimes, it is easy to forget that we are in the position to help others, and we neglect to do our part.”
Other charitable events taking place include an annual care package drive for UIU military students coordinated by Karla Gavin, director of career development. Gavin gathered a list of 57 names this year and within days of asking for help by faculty and staff, all of the names were taken. The care packages consist of personal items such as soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, pen, stationery, and candy. Gavin also asks that each contributor insert a friendly note of support and encouragement to the students as well.
The UIU-Wausau Center staff and students at the North Central Technical College campus collected 126 boxes of items for the Patriot Pack Project, which delivers care packages to service U.S. military personnel in Iraq from Marathon, Lincoln and Langlade counties in Wisconsin. Items collected included basic toiletries, granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, canned chips and reminders of central Wisconsin, such as pictures or personal notes. Monetary donations were also accepted to pay for postage.
The Upper Iowa Office of Student Development staff has held several ‘Dress Down for Charity’ days during December. For $5, staff is allowed to wear denim on Fridays, and the money is donated to the Fayette County Habitat for Humanity and Fayette County Food Shelf. Several food drives were also held during the holidays and donated to the food shelf.
The Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) business organization put up a ‘Giving Tree,’ asking the UIU community to choose an ornament and buy a child’s gift (based on the age indicated) and to return the unwrapped gift by December 15. PBL made 100 ornaments available on the tree, with plans to distribute all the gifts before the start of the University’s holiday break.
“The response from the university community has been heartwarming,” said Lynn Isvik, associate professor of business/division chair. “As soon as we announced the Giving Tree project, people started contacting us from as far away as our Hong Kong center to ask how they could get involved.” She added, “Several people told me they normally hate to shop but that they really enjoyed doing it when it was for such a good cause. We’re glad we could help make a difference for area children during this holiday time.”
Isvik was recently elected to a 3-year term on the National Board of Directors for FBLA-PBL, Inc. (Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda), headquartered in Reston, VA.
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