A Drive of Action
How Campus Ministry collected a mammoth amount of donations for California wildfire victims.
November 9, 2020
A spring into action, a steadfast resolve, and simple choices founded upon compassion. These gears sent into motion what would be a matter of urgency: addressing the California wildfires that had forced countless students and faculty to evacuate. In response to the growing evacuations, Campus Ministry started a drive to collect essential items for evacuees.
Senior Fadi Ballou recollects, “I was scared thinking that my family would have to evacuate. Luckily, we didn’t have to. But I know many people that did.” Rushing into action, Fadi “spent an entire day coming up with ideas that would make a good flyer and focus on the key parts of the drive. After finalizing it, I sent it to the Campus Ministry Director Mr. Wesmiller, posted it on my social media page, and told friends.”
Director of Christian Service, Mr. Marheineke, then contacted the Santa Cruz County Community Foundation, an organization accepting donations to aid those impacted by the wildfires, as well as the types of items that could be accepted. Over the weekend, news of the drive was announced through email and various social media outlets, courtesy of Fadi’s flyer.
When the drive was just taking off, Mr. Wesmiller’s expectations weren’t particularly high. As he says, “All we were doing was making people aware by giving them a list of items that the organization wanted and a space to drop it off at Mitty. I thought, ‘Oh we’d get some items, about half a van load in a week.’”
When enough items accumulated in the foyer, he was to drive the van to the SCCCF warehouse and drop off the donations. However, his expectations could not have been further from reality: “Mrs. Caputo called me on Monday afternoon and said, ‘You’re going to have to come down here immediately because we’re already full.’” As the week rolled on, the donations filled a whopping total of three and a half twelve-passenger vans.
Across the board, individuals went above and beyond: a man not even affiliated with Mitty who managed to get wind of the drive lent his own flatbed truck to carry donated items. In another instance, the women’s soccer team took it upon themselves to advertise the drive and accumulate two carloads of necessities.
What was truly remarkable was the incredible impacts people had in their seemingly small acts of solidarity. In the Santa Cruz warehouse, those severely affected by the wildfires —some who even lost their homes–– could be seen lining up all the way to the parking lot. With nowhere else to turn, these recipients often gathered beside the warehouse, as it was the only place they knew where they could receive essential aid.
Mr. Wesmiller says of the drive, “It’s not about our own self-gratification… I want those who donated to know that their simple choices could quite literally put a roof over someone’s head, provide food for families, or offer a place to sleep. That’s something real.”