Though it may be hard to see the upcoming holiday season through the looming week of finals, two first years are urging students to think not only of the holidays, but also of others.
Bowdoin's first Holiday Toy Drive, under the direction of Isa Abney '11 and Karl Nyangoni '11, began during the last week of November and will run through Friday, December 14. The toys that the students collect will be donated to homeless youth in a Maine shelter, who otherwise would not be getting presents during the holiday season.
Abney and Nyangoni set up bins to collect toys in Smith Union at the beginning of the drive. This week, they began running a table in the Union as well.
Abney, who works on the BSG Committee of Student Affairs, conceived the idea for the drive and collaborated with Nyangoni, the Class of 2011 Community Service Officer. The two are coordinating the event largely on their own.
"Technically, the only group which the event is being 'sponsored' by is the BSG Committee on Student Affairs," said Abney. "They are paying for the vans and gas and wrapping paper."
E-mails to the campus have invited students to donate a variety of toys including board games, sports equipment, CDs, art supplies, action figures, and dolls.
Though Abney and Nyangoni are not sure to which shelter they will donate the toys, they will choose between their two options soon. One shelter, Youth Alternative's Reardon House for Boys and the Girls Transitional Program, is located in South Portland, while the other shelter, Halcyon House, is in Skowhegan, about an hour north of Brunswick.
"We want to bring the toys up to whichever shelter we choose by December 15," said Abney. "By Monday, we'll have the decision."
Their choice depends partly on whether the drive accumulates enough toys to merit driving an hour to Halcyon House.
"I'll really feel bad if we go to a homeless shelter and the best Bowdoin can do is 50 toys," said Abney. "People know Bowdoin, and we have a lot of money."
Though the drive was slow to start, donations have finally started to pick up.
"This weekend, we got a good number of stuffed animals," said Abney.
He added that some students and faculty have also made donations in the form of money, which is also appreciated.
"Right now, we have two different departments, one chartered program, and one social house that donated money," said Abney.
In addition, some faculty members have donated money independently of their departments.
Though some people have responded generously to the drive's efforts, Abney and Nyangoni stressed that they would like to see more participation from the community as a whole.
"People aren't really into community service as much as I thought they were going to be," said Nyangoni.
Abney said that the "Bowdoin bubble" is partly to blame for this.
"It's nice and comfortable here, but I can go to the 7-11 and find a homeless person walking around," he said. "If you go past Pickard, you see people that are living below the poverty line. We don't really do as much as we could and should."
The group will have a table set up at the Sunsplash Craft Fair today. Donation do not have to be new toys, but they should be in good condition.