UHV Student Senate helps charities with Giving Tree

University of Houston-Victoria Student Senate members Ashleigh Kellis-Carr, right, and Paige Ruschhaupt were among students, faculty and staff who helped decorate the 2010 Giving Tree. Community members are invited to donate items to local charities by Dec. 14 by placing them under the tree in the University Center foyer.

Members of the University of Houston-Victoria Student Senate will play Santa’s elves to see that needy children of the Crossroads region have a Merry Christmas.

Senate members will host their ninth annual Giving Tree, a holiday charity drive supporting five local charities. Community members are invited to leave toys, canned food, clothing and other items under the Giving Tree in the foyer of the UHV University Center, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.

The organization will kick off its drive at 11 a.m. Thursday by decorating the large tree. Unwrapped donations may be placed under it through Dec. 14.

This year’s donations will benefit Adopt-A-Pet, Food Bank of the Golden Crescent, HOSTS (Help One Student To Succeed), Mid-Coast Family Services and the Old Landmark Committee of Victoria.

“This year, we are focusing more on the needy of all ages, and we also included our soft spot for stray pets in the area,” said Emily Bergstrom, UHV Student Senate president. “A lot of people are struggling right now, so we hope to do our part to make the Christmas season a little brighter for them.”

Each year, Senate members choose area charities to benefit from the Giving Tree, solicit donations, and make arrangements to deliver the supplies once the campaign ends.

The charities use these donations to advance their cause. Adopt-A-Pet is a local animal rescue, rehabilitation and adoption service. The Food Bank of the Golden Crescent collects food for the needy, elderly and sick. HOSTS is a mentoring and tutoring program implemented by the Victoria Independent School District. The Old Landmark Committee helps take care of children and the needy, and organizes community celebrations such as Juneteenth, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month. Mid-Coast Family Services works to eliminate family violence, homelessness and substance abuse.

“Our needs are definitely up because it’s been a lean couple of years,” said Jo Janssen, Mid-Coast Family Services director of development. “Economic issues affect our funding and increase our clientele, so being a beneficiary of the Giving Tree program is a huge blessing for us.”

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

The charities have asked for food items, school supplies, toiletries, baby items, clothing for youth and adults, and toys for children of all ages.

For more information, contact Thomas Cox, Student Senate faculty adviser, at 361-570-4214 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