By Brock Mackinnis, Kelsey Keller, and Jordon Lawrenz
A UW-Green Bay student organization spread holiday cheer! The local DECA group on campus ran the “DECA the Halls Holiday Toy Drive” through December 17th.
There were donation boxes placed by the Christie Theater, the Student Engagement Center, the University UTIC booths, and the Community Center. All donations were made to Holiday of Hope and given to children aged up to seventeen for this holiday season.
When asked about how the idea for the toy drive came about, DECA President Tyler Priebe said, “I got in touch with the House of Hope through our advisor, John Stoll. He told me to reach out to them as John served on the board for House of Hope in past years”. This is the first year that the Toy Drive is being held. DECA also hosted events on the 13th and 14th, where they wrapped presents. The events encouraged others to participate and help wrap gifts. Depending on the size of the gift, a fee was issued. All of the money raised was donated along with the toys.
House of Hope also tries to work with student organizations. Beth Hudak, director of Community Engagement at House of Hope, said, “We work with students and student organizations as frequently as we are able. Student organizations volunteer and host need drives like the one your group is doing and help us advocate for the youth and families we serve.”
This Toy Drive serves as an important reminder about the importance of giving back when one can. House of Hope said that drives like this send a show of support to those who need drives like this since “individuals and families experiencing homelessness are not just unhoused, they are also often “othered” by society, it can be a very disempowering space and experience.”
Joseph Yoo, a UWGB professor, jumped on the opportunity when he heard he could donate. Yoo commented, “I am so blessed that I could help others. Around us, there is someone who needs help in multiple ways. I always believe that sharing is caring, and I will donate more toys next year for sure.”
Drives like this also help eliminate additional costs that can be better spent using the services that House of Hope already does to help the families and children they serve. Hudak stated that House of Hope’s goals are “to provide a safe and supportive place where young parents and children experiencing homelessness will become confident, independent, and successful members of our community.” House of Hope has grown in terms of the number of families that they help each year, with Hudak stating, “Over the last five years, we have grown from serving about 230 clients annually to over 1,000 each year.”
The DECA Toy Drive showed the power of giving back to the community. Many feel that it’s important to give back. Priebe said, “I believe it is very beneficial for organizations to do charity events throughout the year! It shows that your org cares about the community and gives other students an opportunity to learn what your org is about as well!”