UHV Student Senate pitches in for Giving Tree charities

University of Houston-Victoria faculty, staff and students trim the tree during last year’s Giving Tree kickoff event. Community members are invited to donate items to local charities through Dec. 14 by placing them under the tree in the University Center foyer.

Needy children will be the focus of the University of Houston-Victoria Student Senate’s eighth annual Giving Tree, a holiday charity drive that will support four local charities this year.

Anyone from the community is invited to leave toys, canned food, clothing or other items under the “Giving Tree” in the foyer of the UHV University Center, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The organization will mark the drive’s kickoff at 11 a.m. Dec. 1 by decorating the large Christmas tree. Unwrapped donations may be placed under it through Dec. 14.

This year''s donations will benefit the Boys and Girls Club, Food Bank of the Golden Crescent, Old Landmark Committee of Victoria and the YMCA.

“We are focusing on children in need this year, so that’s why we chose these charities to support,” said Paige Ruschhaupt, UHV Student Senate president. “A lot of families are struggling right now, and many of these organizations that serve the needy have seen a drop in giving, as well. We hope to at least make Christmas a little brighter for the children.”

Each year, the Student Senate chooses the area charities to benefit from the Giving Tree, solicits donations, and makes arrangements to deliver the supplies once the campaign ends.

Once the drive is completed, organizations will use donated items to advance their cause. The Food Bank collects food for the needy, elderly and sick. The Boys and Girls Club has after-school programs to promote character and leadership development, including homework assistance, drug and alcohol prevention education, financial literacy and job readiness.

Workers and volunteers at the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent have seen needs rise as the economy has remained slow.

“The need is definitely great. We have seen an 8-percent increase in requests for assistance,” Director of Resource Development Ramona Hollan said. “Every little bit helps when we are stocking the shelves. For every dollar donated, we can generate $17 worth of food for a family in need.”

A list of specific needed supplies is available in the University Center foyer and the Student Services office in the University West building.

The charities have asked for shoes, gifts for teens, toys for children of all ages, canned food and rice, board games and building blocks.

For more information, contact Janet Foerster, Student Senate staff adviser, at 361-570-4102 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Ken Cooke 361-570-4342