The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is nationally known as Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to giving back to communities in need. According to Director of Service Learning and Community Engagement Marianna Foulkrod, this Giving Tuesday served as a reminder to give time or financial support to help non-for-profits after Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“Giving Tuesday is online. It is a web-based effort to raise awareness about different non-for-profits and to get donors to give funding to help support programs and non-for-profits,” Foulkrod said. “The University of Indianapolis was hosting Giving Tuesday to help support the University of Indianapolis, and it was a good opportunity for us to think of a way that as we receive money, that goes to awards or the general fund … we also give and support our communities.”
The university’s Giving Tuesday effort was coordinated by the Office of Advancement and Alumni.
“It is really an effort to give back to the university,” Foulkrod said. “They [the office] pulled us in when they had the idea to serve the community at the same time. The Center for Service-Learning and [Community] Engagement—our goal here is to always find ways to engage the different entities of our campus with our communities.”
After considering many options of service, Foulkrod selected Laurelwood, a housing community for low-income families. UIndy currently runs a number of programs there and has a large student volunteer base.
“The programs that are run there are in collaboration with the Greater Y, specifically the Intercollegiate YMCA, and then the Indianapolis Housing Agency and UIndy,” Foulkrod said. “Our programs run after school Monday through Friday, 4 [p.m.] to 6 [p.m.]. Most of the volunteers at Laurelwood are UIndy students…. We currently serve about 40 kids. On a typical day, we will have between 20 and 30 that show up.”
Foulkrod said that the kids will relax for a little bit, eat a snack, do their homework, work on their reading, eat dinner and do a learning activity put together by UIndy students.
“What we did for Giving Tuesday is, for every $25 donation that someone would give to the University of Indianapolis, they [the donor] could choose a pair of UIndy socks,” Foulkrod said. “Then for every pair sent back to the donors, we would donate a pair to the kids at Laurelwood…. President Robert Manuel, a few staff [members] from Alumni and Advancement and us went out and helped pass out the socks to the little kids.”
According to Foulkrod, the children were very excited about their gifts. She said that something like socks might seem like a basic part of life, but to them it was much more.
“Socks and shoes and belts and stuff like that, that you kind of take for granted that all the kids will have those things, and they don’t,” Foulkrod said. “This is a community that is like a mile away from our university, and they come to our programs without socks a lot. For them to have boxes of socks for them to pick from is—the color that they want or the stripes that they want and the size they want—they were losing their minds.”
She said that the children were running around laughing, playing and posing for pictures with Ace and Manuel.
“That is what higher institutions should be,” Foulkrod said. “They should be agents of change in a way. These kids need this reminder that, ‘Yes, we are here to give you a pair or socks, but we are also here to remind you that just a mile away there is the world of opportunity for you, the world of change, the world of knowledge and the world of education.”
Foulkrod encouraged anyone, students or faculty, interested in volunteering to contact the Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement.
Along with Giving Tuesday, another effort made by UIndy to give back to the community is Toys for Tots. Continuing through Dec. 16, the University of Indianapolis Police Department is taking donations for Toys for Tots. Police Chief David Selby is heading the effort and has been involved with the organization for 18 years total, three of which have been with UIndy.
“It is a program that the United States Marine Corp Reserves created,” Selby said. “The mission is to collect new and unwrapped toys to give to families who are struggling or are less fortunate. What we [UIPD] have done, we have put boxes in every building that say Toys for Tots, excluding the tennis dome, and we ask that people help us out.”
According to Selby, the Marine Corp will come pick up the donations and distribute them to those who contact the Corp for their assistance.
“I truly believe in this program,” Selby said. “I like what it does. It is very positive. It helps people out. And it is very difficult to see a child at Christmas not get a gift. I have been doing this since 1998, a long time.”
Selby said that he loves Christmas and the holiday season. He said that it is disheartening to think that some children will wake up on Christmas morning and not have any presents under the tree and that it has always been a priority of his to help with this project.
“They do so much good,” Selby said. “Only 3 percent of what they collect goes to the administrative costs. 97 percent of what they do is handed out to our community. It stays within our community, too. What is collected here is distributed here.”
Toys for Tots focuses on collecting new and unopened toys, not essentials or clothing. For more details, Selby directs people to the website at www.toysfortots.org.