Operation Winter Wear is a Go

From Oct. 29 to Nov. 9, Team Wellness, Out of State Student Union (OSSU), Residence Life, and IMPACT will co-host a winter clothing drive at Buena Vista University called Operation Winter Wear.  The goal of this drive is to provide winter clothing to BVU students who need them, especially those who have never experienced Iowa winter before. 

The idea originally came from Team Wellness, who promote different themes about health and well-being each month.  November’s theme is “Kool to be Kind.”   

“The focus is the importance of helping and giving to others and encouraging random acts of kindness in the BVU community,” says Tami Laursen, director of health services and wellness and staff advisor of Team Wellness.   

Laursen said Team Wellness discusses the theme of each month and tries to figure out what events or opportunities they can host based on the theme.   

“[Operation Winter Wear] came up as an idea, but then [we] knew it was far bigger than what we could do ourselves,” says Laursen.  

It turned out that the other organizations were already thinking about it. 

“Since we do have a lot of students who are from out of state—majority from south states, warmer states—we started noticing that they might not have winter gear to forge the winter, the snow, and everything,” says Director of Residence Life and Housing Crystal Jones. 

“We’ve all talked to students and asked them ‘are you ready for this Iowa winter?’ And [their response is] ‘No, no, no,’” reveals Reverend Ken Meissner, campus chaplain and staff advisor for Impact.   

“A lot of the out of state students don’t realize how cold it gets here, and either they can’t afford it or they just don’t plan to bring winter clothing because they don’t have to buy it at home,” says Abigail Tillman, president of OSSU.  “I kind of had the idea, but then Tami brought it up to me, and then we planned it from there.” 

When all four groups heard they were thinking about the same thing, they realized it would be best if they worked together. 

“The other groups were sort of thinking something along the same lines, so we figured bringing everyone together would be good for all of us, and it would be less competition, if you will,” Team Wellness President Mel Graf says.  

The first two weeks of the program are dedicated to donating new or gently used, adult winter clothing items.  The program is also accepting monetary donations to purchase winter clothes.  All donations can be dropped off in Swope Hall.  There is also a drawing for a chance to win a tie blanket that people making donations can help tie knots in. 

The next two weeks, Nov. 12 to Nov. 23, the donated clothing will be moved to the Winter Wear Closet in Pierce 230, where students can pick up any winter items they need.   

“We called it a closet instead of a store because we want people to know that it is free.  There is no charge, and I guess sometimes with the connotation of a store, it’s you buy stuff,” Laursen says.   

Jones says that the decision to move the clothes from the Student Success office in Swope Hall to a room in Pierce-White was to create accessibility for students. 

“We will be using an empty room in Pierce-White just because we know that a lot of the majority of our students from out of state are the ones who are living in that building. So that would be a lot easier for them to just stop by and pick up whatever they need.” 

Because many out-of-state students do not get the opportunity to go home over breaks, Tillman suggested that the closet remain open through Thanksgiving break. 

“A lot of the international students don’t go home for Thanksgiving either, so they would be here too.” 

While out of state students are the ones the winter clothing drive was thought of for, Laursen makes it clear that it is open to the whole BVU community. 

“We don’t want to turn anybody away,” Laursen says. “It’s open to everybody.  It’s not just open to the out of state students.  It’s open to anybody who has a need.” 

Meissner says that this project is in the spirit of the season, not just because of the wintery weather, but because of the “aspect of giving, a simple giving.” 

“I think we have close to 400 staff and faculty around here and if each one gave one article, how big of an impact that would make?”  Meissner asks.  “It’s that time of year.  You think about Thanksgiving, you think about Christmas, and giving, giving, giving, and just to give a little bit of ourselves. It’s not going to take that much, if we do it together as a community.” 

Students will be able to access the closet starting Monday, Nov. 12.  Closet hours will be: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Friday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Once the closet closes, any leftover items will be donated to a charity of the collaborative group’s choice. 

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