|Stacie Garcia, the former University of Houston-Victoria Student Government Association director of external affairs, hangs ornaments on the 2011 Giving Tree. This year’s tree will be decorated at 11 a.m. Monday.|
Visitors to the University of Houston-Victoria University Center the first two weeks of December will notice the generous spirit of the holidays coming alive underneath a large Giving Tree.
That is where community members and UHV faculty, staff and students can drop off unwrapped items for Adopt-A-Pet, Food Bank of the Golden Crescent, HOSTS, Mid-Coast Family Services and the Old Landmark Committee of Victoria.
UHV Student Government Association members will host the 10th annual Giving Tree, a holiday charity drive supporting the five local charities. Community members are invited to leave toys, canned food, clothing and other items under the Giving Tree in the foyer of the UHV University Center, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.
The holiday tradition will kick off at 11 a.m. Monday when Student Government Association members invite university employees to decorate the tree. Donations can be placed under the tree until Dec. 14.
“I like the idea of the Giving Tree because it sets an example for students to show we care about the community,” said Jena West, Student Government Association president. “It’s important for UHV students to reach out to the community. As an organization, the Student Government Association strives to help the greater good, and that is why the Giving Tree has been a significant event for us annually.”
Each year, association members choose area charities to benefit from the Giving Tree, solicit donations and make arrangements to deliver the supplies once the campaign ends.
The charities use the donations to advance their cause. Adopt-A-Pet is a local animal rescue, rehabilitation and adoption service. The Food Bank of the Golden Crescent collects food for the needy, elderly and sick. HOSTS (Help One Student to Succeed) is a mentoring and tutoring program managed by the Victoria Independent School District. Mid-Coast Family Services works to eliminate family violence, homelessness and substance abuse. The Old Landmark Committee helps take care of children and the needy, and organizes community celebrations such as Juneteenth, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month.
Dennis Brown, executive director of the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent, said the Giving Tree helps the organization fulfill its mission of feeding people at or below the poverty line.
“We are always excited when young people get involved in philanthropic endeavors because they are the future leaders,” he said. “If they are exposed to charity and embrace it, the future will be bright. When everyone in the community is working together toward our mission, we make great strides in fighting hunger.”
Some of the items the charities requested are sweatshirts, alarm clocks, crayons, dog food and toothpaste. A full list of specific items needed is available online or in the University Center foyer and the Student Services office in University West.
For more information about the Giving Tree, contact West at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-414-0155.