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Student volunteering slow during holidays

Josh Fields/Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Toys for Tots bin at Old Main begins to fill up as the holiday season approaches. If you're looking to donate gift to Toys for Tots, bins are located at Old Main, the information desk at the Student Union Memorial Center and throughout campus.
By Anthony D. Ávila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
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Some still find time to mentor, help needy

Though the holidays are often seen as a time of giving, many students are too occupied with final exams and leaving town to lend a helping hand.

Hanees Haniffa, the director of Project Volunteer, said there aren't many volunteer events organized at the end of the year because students are too focused on cramming for finals to take a break to volunteer.

More than 400 students and faculty volunteered on Nov. 19 for All Campus Philanthropy, but there weren't any major events after that, Haniffa said.

"Classes are coming to an end and students have to take care of their responsibilities," said Haniffa, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student.

But if students aren't contributing significantly during the winter, they make up for it with their consistent charity throughout the rest of the year, Haniffa said.

"I don't look upon philanthropy as a seasonal thing," Haniffa said. "Everyone's thinking about it and talking about it now, but we've been doing this all semester."

But while this time of year is busy for students, some are making an extra effort to pull away from their studies to organize food drives and even help children make snow globes and gingerbread cookies.

On Friday, students of Camp Wildcat led holiday-themed activities for children at the Angel Children's Center, 4101 E. 22nd St.

The elementary school-aged children spent more than an hour making snow globes out of glitter and baby food bottles, decorating gingerbread people and drawing snowmen out of paper plates.

Deena Davis, a theatre arts senior, said it was easy to make time to work with the children because it's a priority for her to mentor "one on one" with children instead of simply sending a gift.

"Kids are my passion and I think that you have to point them in the right direction when they are young," Davis said. "One positive role model can make all the difference."

Sarah Beard, a psychology senior who has volunteered at the center since she was a freshman, said she doesn't consider volunteering to be an extra burden because she sees it as a nice break.

"It's fun to be like a kid again, and the best way to do that is play with kids," Beard said. "It's fun to see them all smiling and having fun with the projects, which never go right, but they love them anyway."

Amanda Wendt, a biochemical and molecular biophysics graduate student, helped out with a toy drive for children who live in Nogales, Mexico, by setting up drop-off boxes around campus for the nonprofit organization Borderlinks, which organizes volunteer work on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Wendt said she wanted an opportunity to positively impact border issues when she found out about Borderlinks through the Presbyterian Campus Ministry. After making the call, Wendt was put in charge of the toy collection at the UA, which will be given out Dec. 17.

Matt Wong, a journalism senior, said he helped put together a food drive for the town of

Tombstone that was supposed to be for Thanksgiving but continued until last week.

Wong, who writes for the journalism department's publication, The Tombstone Epitaph, said his course professor brought up the idea and he agreed to take on the project.

"It's nice to give for the less fortunate for the holidays, not that you shouldn't help out the rest of the year," Wong said. "But the holidays are extra special, so it's nice to do something for others."

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