Collecting gifts to give back

No one enjoys the feeling of cold, wet feet, particularly in the winter. But imagine if you couldn’t warm up your toes.

Staff at the Point Grey office.

This is the reality for many people in Metro Vancouver who rely on shelters when temperatures drop.

For the past decade, staff in administrative service units have supported the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau with toy donations.

Shanda Jordan Gaetz, Executive Director, Faculty Affairs, brought the idea to the Faculty of Medicine after taking part in similar initiatives while working in UBC’s central Human Resources office.

In 2017 Jordan Gaetz decided the Toy Drive needed a fresh twist and the initiative expanded to include a sock collection. Socks are the most requested clothing item at shelters yet are rarely donated.

Staff at the City Centre office.

“Grabbing a pair of socks is so easy, yet meaningful to people who are out in the streets in the cold winter,” she says.

In the spirit of giving, interest in the drive grew this year, with more departments than ever before participating.

“I received calls from departments who asked ‘Can we start a collection here?’ There’s just such a willingness and a generosity from people across the Faculty,” Jordan Gaetz says. “It’s overwhelming every year. I love it.”

After staff collect items over three weeks, Jordan Gaetz loads up her car and delivers the haul to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. And she doesn’t go alone.

Staff at the Diamond Health Care Centre office.

“My kids always pick out presents for the Toy Drive. I take them along to drop off the toys so they can see the impact,” she says. “Last year, collecting 300 pairs of socks when I was hopeful for 100 pairs was amazing. We got a huge thanks from the shelters.”

Jordan Gaetz points to the collaboration the drive brings to the Faculty of Medicine.

“It offers staff an opportunity to support the broader community,” she says. “The holiday season is a time when we can really think about giving and sharing and the drive is a way for us to come together.”

This year the Faculty of Medicine staff collected 421 pairs of socks and more than 120 toys.