ASUNM’s Community Experience is partnering with Albuquerque Public Schools, UNM Hospital and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department this year to put on their annual Giving Tree event, as the student governing body hopes to encourage the spirit of giving this holiday season.
Students interested in participating in the event can take an ornament from the Christmas tree — located in the SUB atrium. Attached to each ornament are gift tags with specific items listed that students can donate to the participating organizations.
After donating the listed gift, students are invited to keep their chosen ornament as a memento.
Items listed for donation include things like gift cards, toys, toiletries and school supplies. Unwrapped gifts with their attached labels will be accepted in the ASUNM office, located in the lower level of the SUB, until Dec. 16 — the Friday of Finals Week.
Gabe Gallegos, director of communications for ASUNM, said they are really proud of this student-led effort and are hoping to receive as many donated gifts as possible.
CE Communications Director Alexa Pohl said when looking for items to include on the ornaments, they tried to include things that would be affordable to college students, so they wouldn't have go too much out of their way in order to participate.
“People don’t realize that even with the smallest thing like a glitter pen, someone could find such happiness,” she said. "It really keeps the spirits alive.”
Bella Cervantes, CE executive director, said she hopes everyone can grab an ornament and donate this year.
After Dec. 16, she and a group of CE volunteers will personally head to each of the participating organizations to give out the gifts.
The Giving Tree event has been going on successfully for several years now, Cervantes said.
“Last year one of the ornaments said Xbox and we put it out thinking nobody was going to really donate it,” she said. “But we ended up contacting this guy who saw it and he donated three old Xboxes and a PlayStation.”
Zander Halgryn, a freshman mechanical engineering major, said he decided to grab an ornament off the Giving Tree this year to participate in a good cause.
“You’re donating to somebody in need, and you get to keep the ornament and decorate a tree with it,” he said. “Every time you look at it, you can think, ‘Yeah, I did that for a good cause.’”
Kailey Wulfert, events director for CE, said she also decided to participate with her fellow CE members this year.
“Last year I picked up a couple ornaments off the tree and it was such a great experience that I decided this year to pick up a few more as well,” she said. “It makes me feel good because the holiday season isn’t always about receiving, it’s about giving too.”
With this giving spirit in mind, Pohl said she is glad the University and ASUNM offer the opportunity to put on events like the Giving Tree.
“Just it being the University itself is giving us the outlet to do stuff like this,” Pohl said. “It is the time of the year where we should be going out and giving our all.”
Gabriela Garcia Huff is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @thegreen_gablin.