Dean of Students Office Holiday Toy Drive

Hurricanes get into the holiday spirit

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen

Hurricanes get into the holiday spirit

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen
A record number of gifts have been collected across UM campuses to benefit children and seniors in the South Florida community.

With cheerful smiles and heartfelt thanks, students and employees at the Butler Center for Service and Leadership were busily sorting and packing hundreds of toys collected for needy children and seniors across South Florida on Thursday.

The strong generosity of students, faculty, and staff at the University of Miami resulted in the center collecting 725 gifts during this season’s Hurricane Holiday Drive, with 175 of the gifts dedicated to senior citizens. It is the largest amount of donations the Butler Center has seen in the past eight years, said its director, Andrew Wiemer.

“I was very excited that word spread around campus this year about the things that we can do to give back to our community in Miami,” Wiemer said.

Students Collect for Holiday Toy Drive
Participants of the holiday toy drive from the LGBTQ Student Center.

Starting today, three Miami organizations will begin picking up the donations to distribute during their holiday festivities. The first, Hope for Miami, is an organization that supports youth and children throughout Miami with different programs, and often attracts UM student volunteers. A second organization that will receive donations is called Just Kids Center, Inc., which is a preschool and day care for young children. In addition, Home Instead Senior Care, an organization that offers home help for the elderly, will be receiving all of the gifts for the senior citizens.

“We coordinate it, but this is really a University of Miami program and that’s what makes it so meaningful. It’s everyone coming together for these organizations,” said Lindsey Woods, assistant director of UM’s Butler Center for Service and Leadership.

Woods and Wiemer attribute the success of this year’s drive to the many active participants. First of all, the Butler Center partnered with the Service and Leadership Liaisons student group to reach out to student group leaders and residential colleges. They also sent out e-mails to various campus departments in November, and many eagerly responded that they wanted to be collection sites. While typically there are about five to eight bins around campus, this year Woods said there were 15 bins located throughout the University, with two on the medical campus and four at the Gables One Tower, where many administrative offices are located.

“It was also amazing that so many places around campus wanted to be hosts and participate in the drive and that was just a new thing that happened,” Wiemer said.