Random Acts of Kindness Scholarship Hopes to Aid Struggling Students

On February 11, 2002

For some UB students, the financial aid package offered by the university is not sufficient. One UB student, for example, was so determined to receive a degree regardless of financial status that he chose to live out of his car because he could not afford housing.

After hearing about such cases, Judy Mackey, special programs coordinator in the Office of the University Development, approached Greg Neumann, manager of the University Bookstore, to try to develop a means of financial assistance for students in need.

The collaboration formed the birth of the "Random Acts of Kindness" program, which asks students, customers and businesses within the bookstore to contribute money in hopes of establishing a fund for students in financial need.

"The objective is to help those who have slipped economically, have suffered extreme personal loss, are in unquestionable demand for financial aid or are in potential danger of having to leave the university because they do not possess a sufficient amount of money," said Mackey.

"We try to assist in various campus causes when the need arises," said Neumann. "It is my hopes that the students will embrace this program."

The bookstore has placed containers labeled "Random Acts of Kindness" on every checkout counter for customers willing to contribute to the cause and leave spare change. In addition, cashiers ask for a donation with every purchase.

Both Mackey and Neumann emphasized the critical need for public awareness of student financial struggles and are currently seeking support from UB peers as well as local businesses.

Sandy DeMarco, a bookstore employee and advocate of the new program, has been attempting to rally support from local on-campus businesses and is currently trying to capture the attention of various on-campus clubs for sponsorship and grants.

The program's founders stressed that the program is not available to students looking for quick cash.

"Students need to prove their financial need," said Mackey. "This program is for students who need funds immediately."

When the scholarship is ready to be awarded, prospective recipients will need to undergo an application process to receive the award.

Organizes say that due partially to its youth, the program has not received much monetary support and no scholarships have been awarded to date. They hope to begin granting money within the next few weeks, although no date has been set.

"Students have to think, what if they were in this position," said Mackey. "What if they had fallen through the cracks?"

Neumann agreed. "It might be yourself someday," he said.

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