FSU’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is hosting a hat and scarf drive to help underprivileged people in the Big Rapids area.
All RSOs on campus were invited to participate in the drive, which started on November 17th and will end on December 5th. The group to collect the most cold-weather accessories will receive a prize of $100 for their RSO. “We wanted to challenge RSOs to donate to those in need,” said Chaunice Wooten, vice president of NAACP troup 3787 and coordinator of the drive. “We wanted to have a fun competition between organizations and we wanted more collaboration on campus. We really want to emphasize that it’s clearly not about the money.”
The group has been pleased with the amount of participation they have seen so far. They were hoping to have around 10 organizations involved before Thanksgiving. “Our Hat and Scarf is growing,” Breia Harris, president, said just before fall break. “We hope to receive more donations after Thanksgiving break. Organizations such as Saudi RSO and Muslim RSO have donated over 40 items. They have also donated coats for kids and we are delighted about that. We are happy to see that organizations want to help others stay warm this winter.”
“We have really high expectations,” said Wooten. “[We don’t have] a specific number, but we want enough to where there won’t be any kids without a hat or a scarf or gloves. We just want there to be enough to help out, even if it’s just a fraction.”
Donations can be dropped off in the CLACS office on the second floor of the Timme Center. The group has also had tables in the IRC and FLITE over the course of the drive. The last chance to visit one of the drop-off tables is tonight, December 3rd, from 6 to 8 pm in FLITE. Though the competition is for RSOs, individual students are also welcome to donate.
At the end of the drive, the NAACP plans to donate the items collected to St. Andrew’s Church and Our Brother’s Keeper, a local homeless shelter. It was Wooten’s idea to collaborate with St. Andrew’s. “I am actually involved in another organization, DSAGA,” she said. “It’s the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance here on campus, and they are involved a lot with St. Andrew’s Church, so [it] is really kind of close to home.”
The hat and scarf drive was originally scheduled to take place from November 10th through the 21st, but complications arose when the group learned that there was more paperwork they needed before they could proceed. Wooten expressed disappointment that they could not begin sooner, since winter hit Big Rapids early this year. However, the new dates are just in time for the Christmas season. “This project just means so much for us,” she said. “We just want people to get into the ‘season of giving’ and helping out. It’s right before Christmas and Thanksgiving.”
Charity and giving back to the community are extremely important values for both Harris and Wooten, as well as for the NAACP as a whole. “Our organization is basically about diversity and giving back to the community. We are starting to get a little more spread out on campus and we just want people to know who we are and what we do. Anything you see on the volunteer center page, we try to get into. We try to get involved in as many community things as we possibly can. I started volunteering when I was 13. At first, of course, I was a 13-year-old and I was bored and, like, ‘Oh, God, why do I have to do this?’ But then I saw the smiles on people’s faces when I helped. I think it’s important to not worry about yourself for a little bit and think, ‘What can I do for someone else?’ It’s just being a decent human being.”
“We are college students and we live on a budget,” said Harris, “but there are people in the world that wish they could be in our shoes. In life, you have to remember that there are people in the world who are living worse than you. Sometimes we overreact and become ungrateful even though we are still in a stable position. It will never hurt to give back from time to time by donating and spending time to help those who are in need of assistance. The smallest thing can alter someone’s life, but this can only be discovered by getting involved in community service and donating to a cause.”
Students with questions about the hat and scarf drive are welcome to contact Wooten by calling or texting (248) 254-2888 or by emailing her at email@example.com.