Giving back: Why it’s important to donate and how you can help

At school, you have little time for things outside your circle of classes, commitments and friends. For those who live on campus, their circle is even smaller – eating mainly in dining halls or the Student Union, interacting predominantly with other students and being completely immersed in UB culture.

It’s important to remember there’s a world outside of UB – Buffalo, Amherst and the other cities that encompass the university are full of people, families and businesses. There are many struggling to get by – in 2014 there were more than 6,000 homeless people in Erie County, according to the Western New York annual report on the state of the homeless.

As students, we have an advantage. We have the intelligence to be in school and create a future for ourselves. We have the supplies we need to succeed and the youth to be active in the community.

Donations are so easy – it’s as simple as going into your closet and looking at what you haven’t worn in more than six months or what just doesn’t appeal to you anymore.

That old sweater you’re over because it’s out of season could keep someone warm this winter. Those boots that are too small can be a pair of shoes for someone who only has flip-flops. Taking the time to donate clothing can mean the world to someone else, and can take 20 minutes of your own time.

It’s important to start now. We are young adults and we will shape the world around us because we’ll be living in it for the next 60-70 years. If you start now, it will become habit – a positive one – that you can pass on for generations.

If you’re looking to get involved, there are a few places you can go.

On campus, the giant red boxes around the Ellicott Complex and a few other places near North Campus are Hearts for the Homeless boxes that accept clothing, shoes and blankets. Just bag up your items, put them in the box and the company will pick them up – you don’t even have to leave campus.

The Salvation Army on Niagara Falls Boulevard is another good, local place to contribute. It also offers disaster relief services for those who experience extreme weather circumstances, like the classic Buffalo snow.

Its proximity to the mall is what makes that location so helpful for the homeless – there are buses that help people move around to shop that stop at the mall, which many homeless people utilize.

Dress for Success Buffalo is a great place to retire some of your more elegant attire – that blazer that you’re sick of, that dress you already wore to formal or those heels that just don’t seem to fit right. Its mission is to help disadvantaged women in the job market by providing them with clothing and career services such as improving résumés and making business connections.

It accepts donations on Wednesdays and particularly looks for business-appropriate clothing. If you don’t have time or can’t get down there, you can also make a monetary donation online.

Food isn’t an issue for most UB students who have a meal plan or the means to go shopping for themselves. Once in a while a student may even receive a care-package from home full of food. Donate any extra you have to the Food Bank of Western New York. Even if you pick up two jars of peanut butter instead of one, any amount can help. The center donates all over Erie and Niagara County, so it isn’t only helping people local to UB but in the entire WNY area.

The Food Bank’s center is located on Holt Street in Buffalo, which means donating is only a few minutes away. This food goes to people who cannot afford their own or don’t have the means of obtaining it.

Step out of your circle. Appreciate what you have, and the opportunities you’ve been given. It’s easy to give back – just takes practice and the right attitude.

Tori Roseman is the senior features editor and can be reached at