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Campus clothing drive helps homeless

ASU student volunteers put together a food and clothing drive this week, collecting canned food and warm clothing for needy families in time for Thanksgiving. (Photo by Rosie Gochnour)
ASU student volunteers put together a food and clothing drive this week, collecting canned food and warm clothing for needy families in time for Thanksgiving. (Photo by Rosie Gochnour)

Mannequins clothed in donated materials stood on tables on Hayden Lawn Tuesday as echoes of popular music captured student interest in donating to the homeless.

The Community Service Coalition, a group of student community service organizations that seek to promote service on and off campus, campaigned on Hayden Lawn Monday and Tuesday to promote a charity clothing drive to benefit the homeless in the greater Phoenix area.

The event, called Head-To-Toe, is collecting clothes for St. Vincent de Paul, an international charity with a location in downtown Phoenix that helps the homeless, and Clothing United, a company in Phoenix that distributes clothing efforts nationally.

The Community Service Coalition saw a big turnout at the two-day event, with an expected eight boxes of clothes being donated just from campaigning on Hayden Lawn. The coalition has other boxes located in residential neighborhoods across the Tempe campus.

The Community Service Coalition was formed in the fall of 2002, but this is the first year the group has organized and hosted the large volunteer project.

Head-To-Toe is part of a greater weeklong effort to promote homelessness awareness on campus and to promote student involvement. The campaign week, titled Hunger and Homelessness, dates back to 1999, and involves other student organizations like Toms at ASU and the Undie Run, said Rachael Jake, an earth and environmental studies junior and volunteer coordinator of the coalition.

“College students have been deemed less civil and less likely to organize large successful charity campaigns,” Jake said. “However, I think [students] can make a difference right now.”

This is the first major volunteer project organized and hosted by the Community Service Coalition, and the organization considered a clothing drive to be the best way to promote the cause of easing the struggles of homelessness, Jake said.

The clothing drive was a way to collaborate with other organizations, like the Programming and Activities Board at ASU and Circle K International, which is a collegiate level community service organization, said Frank Hogan, physics sophomore and vice chairman of the coalition.

The organization received gift cards, discount cards, coupons and other gifts from Panda Express, Mojos, Roadrunners, and D’arcy McGees in order to reward donators for their charity, Hogan said.

Hogan said the businesses were receptive to the coalition’s efforts and were willing to provide what they could for the cause.

Although the coalition received a big response from external sources, the group made even greater strides in their communication and collaboration efforts with other organizations on campus, Jake said.

“We are building a community, and that’s the main focus and the goal of this event,” Jake said. “It’s been great to see everything come together.”

Toms at ASU is another organization on campus committed to serving the community and also collaborated with the Community Service Coalition during the event.

The coalition called the event Head-To-Toe because Toms at ASU is selling shoes and T-shirts on Wednesday, Jake said.

Toms at ASU is using the proceeds from the sales to purchase shoes for 12 students in one seventh-grade class at Children’s First Academy in Tempe, which is a school of children who are homeless or transitioning out of homelessness, said Nikki Lewis, business management junior and vice president of the club.

The collaboration of the organizations is going to benefit the goal to encourage community service, and Toms at ASU provides a more familiar name to promote student responsiveness, Lewis said.

“I feel like our generation is a lot more receptive to companies that support a good cause,” she said. “Who doesn’t like to give back?”

Online promotion and fliers have been the most powerful means of communicating to the students on campus, and the campus as a whole is working toward a common goal of helping those in need, Jake said.

German freshman Kaleigh Crook said she returned Tuesday in order to donate a few bags of clothes that she had in her car because of a flier she received Monday on Hayden Lawn.

“It definitely was nice that it was right here and I didn’t have to be directed somewhere else,” Crook said. “It’s good knowing I could help someone else when these items were no longer useful to me.”

Coalition members hope to expand the coalition’s efforts to the community and other campuses for the event in the future.

“We want to see more community involvement as well as a stronger focus on expanding our organization’s network,” Jake said.

Despite its hopes of expansion, the coalition will continue to have a main goal of helping those in need in any way possible and promoting that interest, Hogan said.

Devils in Disguise, which is the largest community service event at ASU, is hosted by the Community Service Coalition and will take place in the spring.

“We are just starting, but we are doing what we can,” Hogan said.

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