During the fall semester, members of Buffalo State’s Rotaract Club collected school supplies for needy kids and new socks for the homeless; they assisted with a Hertel Avenue farmers market and donated holiday gifts to clients of Baker Victory Services, among many other projects.
In total, the 50-member organization volunteered for more than 25 community engagement projects.
“I’m proud of our students; they’ve done a fabulous job,” said Carol DeNysschen, chair and associate professor of health, nutrition, and dietetics (HND), who serves as adviser for the 10-year-old service-based club. It is a sub-organization of the Amherst South Rotary Club of Buffalo.
Most of the members are HND majors, but DeNysschen said membership is open to all students. The only requirement is that they actively participate in the projects.
Kate Kane, a returning student in the HND program who formerly worked in social services, serves as the Rotaract president.
“I grew up volunteering; it’s just what we did as a family,” Kane said. “I know that volunteering beats stress because it gets you outside of yourself.”
A student-run board of directors plans and coordinates all activities, including several fundraisers. Each year, the students collectively choose a charity in which to donate the proceeds. This year it will be the Food Bank of Western New York’s backpack program, which provides food for schoolchildren on the weekends.
“Often the only meals these children receive are breakfast and lunch at school,” Kane said.
For Buffalo State students preparing for careers as nutritionists and dieticians, the volunteer work—from organizing food donations to teaching children and disabled adults how to prepare healthy meals—provides an additional layer of learning.
“Students who wouldn’t have the courage to volunteer with an organization alone feel comfortable volunteering with their friends and classmates,” DeNysschen said. “They make a connection to these organizations and continue to stay involved.”
Other campus groups also made significant contributions to the community during the fall semester. The efforts kicked off on September 19 with Bengals Dare to Care Day, which Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner spearheaded.
The dietitian education program hosted its annual chili sale on October 27; proceeds benefited Milligan’s Buffalo State Food Pantry which serves students in need.
In October and November, the Buffalo State Liberty Partnership Program sponsored a Warm Hearts—Toasty Toes Sock Drive and distributed new socks to Buffalo City Mission and Compass House Emergency Shelter.
The Institute for Community Health Promotion, the Center for Health and Social Research, and the Center for Development of Human Services held their annual Toys for Tots Drive, which collected more than 300 Christmas toys for needy children in the community.
Intercollegiate Athletics held a blood drive on campus in October, while more than 150 student-athletes participated in a weekend-cleanup event in Delaware Park Buffalo and Elmwood Village in November.
Weigel Health Promotions held two “Clean Sweep” days in October and November; students and staff collected trash, especially tobacco- and cigarette-related litter, on campus.
The Volunteer and Service-Learning Center Student Leadership Team organized a Thanksgiving dessert fundraiser that raised money for students participating in the five service-oriented alternative breaks in 2015–2016.
Students in a fashion and textile technology service-learning course held a clothing drive and assisted in rebranding two stores for Goodwill Industries. Another group of fashion students held a “shopping day” for Lafayette High School students who selected from donated clothing at no cost.
The campus and community participated in #GivingTuesday on December 1.
Phi Upsilon Omicron, the honor society for family and consumer sciences education majors, sponsored a December clothing drive in collaboration with Amvets.
Buffalo State Orange Crushers, sponsored by the Exceptional Education Department, Buffalo State Best Buddies, and the Student Council for Exceptional Children, participated in the December 5 Polar Plunge at Woodlawn Beach, which raises money for the New York Special Olympics. The Orange Crushers ranked as the highest college team and fourth overall with donations totaling $3,994 from 60 registered plungers.
Student athletes and HND students also organized two food drives for Milligan’s Buffalo State Food Pantry this semester.
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