School of Medicine students and staff at the University of New Mexico North Campus celebrated Giving Tuesday with hot chocolate and a chance to donate.

The event, Hot Chocolate and Gratitude, hosted donation bins for Roadrunner Foodbank, South Valley Clinic, homeless shelters and a bin for Hoodies for Humanism.

Erika Anderson, the program coordinator for the School of Medicine, said the new tradition at UNM is focusing on improving people’s lives with the little things.

“With (Hot Chocolate and Gratitude) we want to promote that we can do something small for people to also give back,” Anderson said. “Whether it’s your community or the School of Medicine, either way, be grateful to give back.”

Sumit Patel is a fourth year medical student and is engaged in the Gold Humanism Honor Society. This year he is working to collect hoodies.

“Every year we put on a donation based giving campaign where we want to make sure students understand that we’re not giving back as physicians, but also to give back in other ways to different types of people,” Patel said. “The big way is through this Hoodies for Humanism.”

Patel said the organization works by receiving donated hoodies and sending them to homeless Albuquerque Public School students, as well as in-need high school students.

According to a 2017 New Mexico Point in Time survey, there were 184 homeless children living in Albuquerque, compared to 293 in 2015.

Patel said people can donate their hoodies until Dec. 6.

He said this is not his first time volunteering. Patel also volunteered doing clinical work for an immigration clinic and by increasing community involvement with students unfamiliar with the health sciences.

“Although we are medical students and give back to the community in many ways, there are little things that matter and I want all students on this side of campus to know that it doesn’t start when we’re doctors — it starts when we’re in training.”

Students and staff found their way to warm cups of hot chocolate, marshmallows, whip cream and biscochitos waiting for them in the Pete Domenici Health Sciences Center.

Yalda Barlas, a third year medical student, said she first heard about Hot Chocolate and Gratitude through an email. She said she came down not for just the hot chocolate, but to also interact more with her classmates.

“It’s cool to see people from different class levels getting involved in something together,” Barlas said.

Barlas also added the charities at the event are just another way to bring everyone together.

“In terms of the charities, I think it’s important that we are not just medical students and members in the community and to just give us reminders to be involved with the community,” she said.

Anthony Jackson is a staff writer and staff photographer for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at or on Twitter @TonyAnjackson.