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ISSUE 118 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/29/2005

Clothing drive exceeds expectations

By Cate Grochala
Staff Writer

Friday, April 29, 2005

Cardboard boxes filled with clothing could be seen in residence halls across campus last week as the Volunteer Network (VN) held a clothing drive to benefit Greytown, South Africa. From April 15 to April 23, students needed only to enter the front lobby of their residence halls to find designated boxes where they could leave unwanted or unneeded clothing items. VN Executive Committee members collected the donations daily from these boxes and sorted them to send to the Greytown Hospital.

Total donations from the 10 residence halls exceeded 1,200 pounds of clothes – an amount greater than VN anticipated.

“Due to massive participation, we were forced to rethink our plan of action for the event,” current director of VN, Tom Balsley ’05 said.

According to Balsley, time constraints with shipping forced VN to donate the clothes collected to local clothing banks while currently making a “significant financial contribution” to the Greytown Hospital to uphold their commitment to be active in the global community.

Balsley explained how the idea for the drive was initiated by comment forms given to organization members to suggest how programs could be improved.

These surveys indicated a student desire for a large, cross-campus volunteer project in the spring. VN was also searching for a project to answer local and global needs. Balsley says that donations have exceeded expectations and the drive has gone extremely well.

“The amount of clothing we received was surprisingly overwhelming and reflects the willingness of Oles to give to those in need of support,” Balsley said.

VN executive committee members Liz Frosh ’07 and Ishanaa Rambachan ’08 agreed the drive has been successful and that the drive supported the VN's mission of service. Both Frosh and Rambachan expressed a desire to thank those who had participated in the drive. They also noted that Carleton has been contributing to the drive as well, creating a friendly competition to see which campus could collect more clothing.

Rambachan set up a contact with the Greytown Hospital for VN through a family member. The hospital works to break down the cycle of poverty afflicting the Zulu tribes in the region. Rambachan noted that in South Africa, the need for clothing increases during the winter months. The workers at Greytown Hospital, Rambachan said, were "very receptive" to VN’s drive to send clothes.

As for the drive’s impact on the St. Olaf community, Rambachan believes "it shows students how easy it is to do something to help others and that they can do something concrete to help."

Frosch agreed. "It’s an opportunity for St. Olaf students to serve globally and it seems there is a lot of support on this campus for global outreach projects like these," she said.

For VN members themselves, the drive has been a positive experience in many ways. "We’ve all been able to work on something together and it’s been a learning experience for our new members, who will be leaders next year," Balsley said. "It’s also been a way for us to increase student awareness about the importance of service and integrate it into the St. Olaf community."

This drive comes as one of the last activities for the VN this year, in addition to the upcoming Northfield Community Day of Service. After sorting the clothing, members will send as much of it as possible to Greytown. The remaining clothing will be donated to local charities. Though the drive is now officially over, students may still contact the VN if they have clothing to donate in the next week.

Next year, VN hopes that the clothing drive will expand into more buildings on campus to encourage more people to give. For example, administrators and faculty might be able to participate more easily with the placement of receptacles in Buntrock and other academic buildings. They also hope that the connection and competition with Carleton will continue.

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