Cultural centers compete to raise gifts for charities

Elizabeth Putnam

Over Thanksgiving break Wing Ho rummaged through her closet in search of clothing she doesn’t wear or can’t fit into.

Instead of giving the clothing to a local thrift shop, Ho is donating the clothes to the Annual Student Cultural Centers’ Charity Drive, which will provide clothing, non-perishable items and toiletries to the Ronald McDonald House and Sharing and Caring Hands.

The Asian American Student Cultural Center runs the drive in a competition among University cultural organizations.

“It’s an intercultural event that links the organizations together,” said Ho, intercultural representative for AASCC. “It’s a collaborative effort to help those (in need) during the holidays.”

AASCC President Tom Luong said his mother always gives money to homeless people she sees on the streets. One time, she even gave away his favorite sheets and pillowcase.

“My mom instilled in me the philosophy of giving,” Luong said. “I let the sheets go because it’s for a good cause. That’s what it is all about.”

Cultural centers compete to see which can raise the most donations, and the results are tallied on a point system. For example, canned items are worth two points, while a coat or jacket is 10 points.

The cultural center with the most points on Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. wins a pizza party paid for by the AASCC.

The AASCC kicked off the drive on Friday with “Taste of Asia,” where it served Asian food. The entry fee was a canned food item or a donation of $1. The food and money raised was not counted toward the competition but will be donated to the charities.

Matt Leo, intercultural representative from the Queer Student Cultural Center, said he likes the drive because it gives the cultural organizations an opportunity to become aware of each other.

“It’s community outreach to the less fortunate and a way for the cultural centers to bind together,” Leo said.

AASCC won last year and hopes to win again.

“The goal is to win,” said Luong. “But by winning we help others and have fun.”

The Africana Student Cultural Center wanted to organize a drive of its own, but decided to join the AASCC competition.

Ngozi Okechukwu, vice president for ASCC, said they plan to put drop boxes in the residence halls to obtain more items.

“The competition is an extra incentive for doing this, but even though it’s a competition, we still work together,” Okechukwu said.

The charities change each year and are chosen based on need, Ho said.

“The Ronald McDonald House is close to campus and works with the University hospital, so we thought it would be beneficial to give to them,” Ho said.

Elizabeth Putnam welcomes comments at [email protected]