Make a Difference Day at SUNY New Paltz was kicked off with a donation drive in the Student Union Lounge.
This is the seventh year SUNY New Paltz is participating in Make a Difference Day and the first time the event happened for longer than two days. Participants collected donations of personal care products and food in collaboration with the Donations of Dignity program. On Sunday, the donated items shipped out to sites all over Ulster County to help local organizations and businesses.
“It’s a national day of doing good,” said Rob Moysey, Resident Director of Scudder Hall and Make a Difference Day Committee member.
Moysey said he hopes that the events will spark student interest in the community .
“We’ve been fine tuning the event over the years and hope to have a good turn out this year,” said Michael Patterson, director of Student Activities. “Last year we have 160 volunteers sign up, but only 100 came,” said Patterson. He says they have 160 signed up again for this year, but have implemented a better system to make sure those who volunteer show up on Sunday.
The majority of volunteers on Friday were students but a handful of staff members from the offices were helping out.
Denise Kennedy-Shane of the Development Office was on hand taking donations. “It’s all about helping the community,” said Kennedy-Shane.
Latosha Belton, fourth-year sociology and Black studies major, along with other volunteers made stickers to give to donators.
“I take any opportunity to volunteer,” said Belton. This is her third year participating in Make A Difference Day.
Students can sign up for Make a Difference Day as an individual but some students like Sheila Opoku volunteer as part of an organization.
“I’m here today just volunteering, but Sunday I’ll be volunteering with the African Women’s Alliance,” she said.
Opoku, a fourth-year biology and sociology major, is no stranger to volunteering, having worked on campus with Take Back the Night.
However, not every student was a volunteer veteran. Danielle Franke, a second-year communication disorders major, said this was her first volunteer experience at New Paltz.
“It’s important for students to be involved,” she said. Franke hopes to start a New Paltz chapter of Autism Speaks and says she wants put on events like this when her club is approved.
At the end of the day, another volunteer, Gabrielle Biggs found the amount of donations “kind of disappointing.” The boxes filled with donated goods were packed up for sorting and shipping. “We did decently well for donations,” said he Steven DiFalco, a third-year environmental biology major and member of the Student Association and committee for Make a Difference Day.
The donations went to the Queen’s Galley Soup Kitchen in Kingston N.Y.