By: Tanasia Smith, Contributing Writer
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday launched the holiday season, Giving Tuesday also created a festive mood. Howard University African Students Association (HUASA) prepared for #GivingTuesday by bagging groceries for low-income families in Washington, D.C.
HUASA students returned from the Thanksgiving long weekend instantly in the charitable spirit of the gift-giving season. Members of HUASA teamed up with Bread for the City Monday night, Nov. 28, to prepare almost 500 bags of groceries to be distributed to families in need for #GivingTuesday.
“Our platform is really big on giving back and service,” explained HUASA Financial Director, Precious Nwajei. The organization’s platform this year is #NewYearNewTribe. The platform is targeted at fostering growth and empowerment. “We wanted to branch out beyond the African Students Association to everyone in the Howard community including the surrounding Shaw neighborhood,” said Nwajei.
#GivingTuesday is celebrated the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. It is a movement that encourages community service and giving to others immediately following the crazed shopping-filled days and door buster sales of nearly 154 million Americans. According to its #GivingTuesday, the program was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street YMCA in partnership with the United Nations Foundation.
“I’m so blessed,” said Quisha James, sophomore from Naples, Fla. “Why not be a blessing to other people? There are all these people who can’t enjoy life the way that I’m enjoying life. It really does something to me. Giving back is very important.”
Community Service Director Temi Adanlawo decided to collaborate with Bread for the City, because their food pantry was in close proximity to the university.
Bread for the City is an organization located in the Shaw neighborhood, whose mission is “to provide vulnerable residents of Washington, D.C. with comprehensive services, including food, clothing, medical care, and legal and social services, in an atmosphere of dignity and respect,” according to its website.
In recent years, Bread for the City has fed an average of 8,409 people each month. The organization’s Volunteer and In-Kind (non-monetary donations) Manager Sonya Springfield said there is usually a big increase in the amount of people they serve during the holiday season.
Springfield said, “Howard students volunteer on various occasions, but I wish more students would come out given that the pantry is just walking distance from the university.” She attributed this low participation number to the fact that there are more volunteers needed at their Southeast Center.
For the HUASA, their work is never done. This week they are hosting a hygiene drive in collaboration with the Howard University Red Cross Chapter to donate hygiene products to the Children’s National Hospital as well as homeless shelters in the area. If you would like to donate, you can drop off your items in the HUASA office located in Student Activities Suite 117, Room 121.