December 04, 2013
By Toni Cardarella
University of Kansas Medical Center students across three campuses have united in the giving spirit this season, volunteering time and gathering donations for service projects in their communities.
KU School of Nursing students organized a food drive to stock Thanksgiving baskets for the families at SafeHome, a domestic abuse shelter for Johnson County victims and their children.
Nicole Drum, shelter economics advocate for SafeHome, came to campus before the drive and told nursing students about the facility and the importance of the agency's annual Thanksgiving baskets. She pointed to a client who said the basket she received last year helped her reconnect with her estranged family.
"They do more than feed people," Drum said. "Sometimes we can forget how important holidays are to people."
Students collected more than 400 food items and a cash donation toward the SafeHome baskets, stuffed with everything needed to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal, says fourth-year nursing student Shelby Weber.
The Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) collected backpacks and toiletry items this month for Morning Glory Ministries, a Kansas City, Mo., program that serves poor and homeless people in the area. Several members of the SOTA's community service committee already volunteer at the shelter helping with meals and were told of the agency's need.
"They essentially carry their lives in their backpacks," says Erin Hagemann of the SOTA. "The director thought, who better than health-interested students to have gently used backpacks, and a heart for those in the community?"
Physical therapy students in the Class of 2014 collected athletic shoes for donation to the City Union Mission in Kansas City.
KU School of Medicine-Wichita students volunteered at the Kansas Food Bank in November, and the Internal Medicine Interest Group teamed up with Via Christi Hospital in Wichita to collect coats and non-perishable canned food items.
At the School of Medicine campus in Salina, students, faculty and staff collected non-perishables for the Salina Food Bank, and students used gift cards donated by the Saline County Medical Society to purchase presents for the Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas' holiday drive. On Nov. 23, students helped at Salina's Central Mall for a breakfast with Santa event that benefitted the Salina Child Care Association.
First- and second-year medical students in Kansas City turned their November food drive for the Kansas City Harvesters food pantry into a competition, with the winners receiving lunch. The drive produced more than 300 items and $500. The second-year students won the competition but decided to donate the cost of their prize to Harvesters.
And Paul Teran, a third-year medical student in Kansas City, is organizing a toy drive for children in the Rosedale Ridge apartment community, collecting new toys from $10-$15 for children up to 15 years old. "This is the second-straight year we have hosted the drive," Teran says. "There are about 300 kids who live at Rosedale Ridge and we try to collect enough toys for every child. Last year we were able to collect over 250 new toys, and made 50 family care packages that contained personal care and hygiene products for the families." Teran and others are collecting toys until around Dec. 8 in preparation for distribution to Rosedale Ridge residents on Dec. 14. Those who are interested in making donations can contact Teran here.
If other students or student groups are making an effort to give back to the community this season and would like to be included in this story, please email the communications office here.