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30 Days of Giving

30 Days of Giving 2017 – Day 17: Doors Open at the Columbia-Greene CC Giving Closet

Columbia-Greene Community College students and staff pose for picture during a food drive.

It started with a Giving Tree – but assistance efforts at Columbia-Greene Community College have grown to be much more than that in the last six years.

In fact, what’s now loosely known as the Giving Closet is more of an idea than an actual place, offering resources and assistance across campus to both students and the community-at-large year-round.

Dawn Defino, Assistant Professor of Human Services and Psychology, said the Giving Tree, which collects holiday gifts for community members in need, and Operation Turkey Drop – which collects and distributes food baskets to students and their families for home-cooked Thanksgiving meals – started as projects taken on by the Human Services Club, but soon grew in both size and scope.

“This year, because these programs continue to grow in need, we have enlisted volunteers from multiple clubs and various disciplines, including Criminal Justice, Political Science, and the Student Senate,” she said, noting that Operation Turkey Drop fed a dozen families last year and the Giving Tree helped 75 people.

Need doesn’t subside after the holidays, however, and what started as a seasonal project has now become a permanent, vibrant aspect of the C-GCC campus. An open food pantry is now maintained by the Student Activities office, for instance, offering non-perishable food items for any student who needs to grab a quick breakfast, lunch, or food for the weekend.

A coat closet supplies new, unworn winter coats collected from donations to any students in need as soon as the weather cools – no questions asked – and a personal products closet is kept stocked where students can ‘shop’ privately for any necessities they may need on either a one-time or on-going basis. On rainy days, complimentary umbrellas appear in the foyers, with signs encouraging students take one to get to-and-from classes more comfortably. When it snows, those umbrellas are replaced with window scrapers and brushes for a safe ride home.

After learning of a growing need among both student-pet owners and community members – particularly senior citizens – to have temporary support caring for their pets, the C-GCC Animal Advocates Club extended the Giving Closet even farther, establishing a pet food pantry.

Nicole Childrose, assistant professor of History and advisor to the Animal Advocates Club, explained that expanding C-GCC’s Giving Closet to include pet supplies created an alternative for families who may face surrendering a pet due to economic difficulties.

“Some help with food and supplies for a week or month allows a person to keep their pet at home rather than being forced to give it up to a shelter,” she said, noting that students, faculty and staff routinely donate pet food and supplies such as blankets, bowls, leashes and toys.

All of the Giving Closet’s inventory is donated by students, staff, faculty, and administration, or purchased with funds raised through various student-lead events. And as the campus’ assistance efforts continue to grow, so does the number of people involved to help new programs take root.


30 Days of Giving 2017:

  1. Day 1: Shopping with a Smile
  2. Day 2: Erie Community College Cook-Off for Kidneys
  3. Day 3: Stony Brook Medicine Helps in Puerto Rico
  4. Day 4: A Day of Service at Onondaga CC
  5. Day 5: New Paltz Students Make a Difference
  6. Day 6: Buffalo State College Dares to Care
  7. Day 7: Niagara County CC Students Lend A Hand for Thanksgiving
  8. Day 8: Old Westbury Helps Haiti
  9. Day 9: A Day of Service at SUNY Potsdam
  10. Day 10: Helping Animals at Hudson Valley Community College
  11. Day 11: FIT Students Help the Homeless
  12. Day 12: Morrisville Athletes Go Local For Service
  13. Day 13: SUNY Poly Gives Back Throughout the Region
  14. Day 14: SUNY Oswego Honors Those Battling Ovarian Cancer
  15. Day 15: Brockport Students Volunteer at Thanksgiving
  16. Day 16: SUNY ESF Sends Acorns to Action
  17. Day 17: Doors Open at the Columbia-Greene Community College Giving Closet
  18. Day 18: Monroe Community College Helps Walk for Water
  19. Day 19: SUNY Cortland Supports Crop Hunger Walk
  20. Day 20: Making Music at Farmingdale State to Help the Hungry
  21. Day 21: Increasing Food Security at Dutchess Community College
  22. Day 22: Addressing Food Insecurity On and Around SUNY Geneseo
  23. Day 23: Westchester Community College Plays the UnHunger Games
  24. Day 24: Binghamton University Builds University Assisted Community Schools
  25. Day 25: Mohawk Valley Community College Gives Back To Their Community
  26. Day 26: SUNY Oneonta Students Help Area Children Learn
  27. Day 27: Rockland Community College Comes Together to Aid Puerto Rico
  28. Day 28: Empire State College Donates to Caribbean Relief
  29. Day 29: Schenectady County Community College Students Provide Support to Foster Families
  30. Day 30: Raising Guiding Eyes at SUNY Delhi
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Written by Sarah Petrak

Sarah Petrak is a student assistant with the Office of Communications and New Media for SUNY System Administration. She is a studying Public Policy at the University at Albany.




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