Warming hearts this winter
Season of Caring program helps students feel a little warmer
By Mariam Taiwo, Contributor
Season of Caring is the time of year where the Peer Support Centre at Mount Royal University helps to provide gift hampers to students in need.
“The Season of Caring is a great cause, because not only does it help students get food but it also helps people contribute to the society and donating the food to the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank too is an amazing thing that we are doing here,” says Miho Ichinoseki, the peer support coordinator.
The goal of Season of Caring is to help students purchase gift for themselves and for their families. This time of year can be fun, especially when you get to give and receive gifts, but it is also a season where students may have financial limitations and are unable to purchase things for themselves and their families. Students can be stressed out financially, emotionally, academically and mentally. On top of that, some have to start paying back their student loans as well.
The Student Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) made the Season of Caring to help students learn about self care and help make the season a little warmer for them.
The Season of Caring is only made possible by donations. This is why there have been booths around Mount Royal University’s campus, on main street and at west gate. There are different ways that they raise funds, which includes asking for small pocket change in exchange for candy by the west gate. It also includes an information booth where students can ask questions about the gift hampers.
The biggest part of the Season of Caring is the gift hamper program. Basically, the program helps to match students who need help getting their gifts with donors who are willing to sponsor their gift wish list and help make their season warmer. All MRU students and their families can be recipients of the Season of Caring gift hampers.
On Nov. 14, they are going to be putting the “Mitten Board” up, which is a place for students to write their wishes for Christmas on the mittens and anyone can take one and sponsor a student and their family (or just a student, depending on how much they can spend). Some faculties also give group donations and a faculty donor can give a single donation if preferred. Monetary donations are also welcome, online or in person.
The Season of Caring is important because it helps the Peer Support Centre on Mount Royal’s campus to have a spirit of charity and help students succeed. “Often students have limited budgets and do not have enough money to buy gifts for themselves and their families so it is very important for students to feel like they are well looked after and appreciated, which is an important aspect of self care,” says Ichinoseki.
The Season of Caring Program helps to fundraise about $600,000 and helps to purchase gifts students cannot afford, explains Ichinoseki.
Although, the greatest aim of the Season of Caring is to help fulfill a student’s gift wish list, that is not all it is about. They also use their fundraising activities to raise money, hygiene products and non-perishable foods for the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank and a lot of food has been donated to the food bank over the years.
Ichinoseki says she used to be a student and she was involved with the Season of Caring and it was always successful. She says many students had access to the gift hampers and that makes the community feel warm.
All the faculties and departments at Mount Royal are very involved in the Season of Caring program. The university as an institution also contributes to the program to help students celebrate the season.
The Peer Support Centre offers a lot of other supports to students such as the food support program, mentorship programs, hygiene products, financial support and so much more.
This year marks the 30th year that the SAMRU has been running the Season of Caring program, helping to support student’s wishes this winter and ensuring they have a warm season. Applications for the gift hampers are now open to students.