The season of giving is here

Three active drives that are happening on campus: To The Little Black Girl That, Teachers Golden Tools for School Drive and the National Children’s Book Week Book Drive [left to right]. These donation boxes were found in East Village’s main lobby, and more can be found here and in other campus residence lobbies. Photo courtesy: Jordan Forbes
It’s that time of year when spirits rise and giving is in the air. The holidays may bring family and friends closer, but it is also the time when strangers come together to help those who are in need of some extra love this holiday season.

And what better way to give to those less fortunate than to donate to your local drives?

At Florida A&M University, there are multiple local and university-affiliated organizations that run clothing, toy and book drives for the holidays. In heavy-traffic common spaces, like dorm front entrances, you can find a lot of organizations and clubs seeking donations for their choice of contribution.

A newly formed organization, To The Little Black Girl That, organized by Zariah Smalls a sophomore studying political science, aims to give back to the community in ways that leave a positive impact. With a vision to deliver and open a safe space for Black girls and women around the world and to leave a positive impact on the community, this organization will be a great amenity to the persons at the Kearney Center, a local homeless shelter.

“Collecting donations allows us to embody and recognize the impact we are going to make on the community during the holidays,” said Smalls. “We know the holidays are some of the hardest times for families, and our goal is to be able to help them in any way we can.”

New traditions are also starting in the Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society. In the process of beginning its own drive for the holidays, it intends to collect food, and in turn, serve meals at local help centers and food banks.

Victorious Bernat, a fourth-year sociology student and current secretary of the Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society, joined the organization in March. And though she struggles at times with her choice of study, when she gives back and helps those in need, she is reaffirmed in her choice of studying sociology and that she’s “doing exactly what I’m meant to do and want to do.”

“We donate to various food banks around Tallahassee so we can help people in all parts of the city,” said Bernat. “Not only can you see this reflected on the faces of those who are receiving the food, but you can also see the gratefulness on the faces of those running these centers because they know how much of a difference that these contributions make.”

Many might wonder where they can get started when it’s as easy as a simple idea. Similar to what J’Corion Johnson, a second-year graphic design student, did himself with his book drive.

Heavily involved on campus, Johnson is the head of photography and public relations director for Faces Modeling Troop, a member of the PR committee for the FAMU Chapter of NAACP, a member of the Strike Team, the SRC liaison, and previously a freshmen senator. As a senator, one of Johnson’s campaign goals was to give back to the local community, and he is doing just that.

Though Johnson’s book drive is not affiliated with any of the organizations he is with, he took an idea he had one day and made it thrive. By using the connections he had in previous roles and in current organizations, Johnson was able to develop a week of events for National Children’s Book Week and work from there.

“If you’re looking for ways to give back, just step out on a limb, and just do it,” said Johnson. “I think that it’s all possible. You just have to step out on a limb, search the heart, and just go for it.”

And if you have no idea how to start a drive or donate, there is still an easy fix for this problem. Bernat has given a few tips on simple ways to start giving back, mentioning that sometimes finding the best information “is to ask a friend or peer that is actively involved in giving back or checking your school’s event pages on social media for any upcoming drives that a club or organization may be hosting.”

Or even simply searching “food pantries near me, clothing drives near me, or volunteer serving food near me.” Finding a way to help your community has gotten easier and easier year after year, so this holiday season, keep an ear out and see where you can give back and put a smile on someone’s face.