The Collegian
Friday, February 23, 2024

SCEI organizes donation drive during Black History Month

<p>A bin full of non perishable food outside of Everything Convenience for the Black History Month donation drive.&nbsp;</p>

A bin full of non perishable food outside of Everything Convenience for the Black History Month donation drive. 

The Black History Month Donation Drive, hosted by the Student Center for Equity and Inclusion, wrapped up after a month of collecting items for two Greater Richmond area nonprofits.

Campus community members donated non-perishable food items and clothing to bins around campus this month in a collection for GoochlandCares and Life Church RVA. 

The donation drive was part of a slew of events organized as part of UR’s Black History Month celebrations. Throughout the month of February, the SCEI organized a Black History Month Kick-off Dinner, a Cultural Kickback, a yoga and meditation event and the Black Excellence Gala, among other events, according to its website. Each program was grounded in giving back, specifically through education, awareness and events.

The drive collected mostly clothing donations, and many students and departments rallied to donate old orientation shirts, UR merchandise from past years and winter clothing, Michael Smart, Assistant Director of Student Engagement and the Bonner Scholars Program in the Center for Civic Engagement, and Jesse Brookins, Assistant Director for Programming in the Center for Student Involvement, said.

It was important that students connected with a community that is underserved and underprivileged and doesn’t necessarily look like the makeup of our student body, Smart and Brookins said. The Black History Month donation drive is a way of giving back to those in need while engaging in the celebrations of the Black community at UR and the Greater Richmond area, they said.

“The drive itself builds the bridge connecting the university and all Richmond students to the greater Richmond community,” Brookins said. 

Smart and Brookins helped coordinate the logistics for the Black History Month donation drive with significant input and assistance from student leaders, student organizations and Bonner Scholars, Smart and Brookins said.

The CCE, CSI and SCEI chose to partner with Goochland Cares and the Life Church RVA for the drive in order for students to connect with the greater Richmond area, said Smart and Brookins. It’s important that students from UR — a place where the student body doesn’t really reflect the makeup of its surrounding communities — are able to connect and interact with that greater community of people, Brookins and Smart said.

Goochland Cares is a clinic that brings health care and basic human services to those in need in Goochland, Virginia.

“[We] envision an equitable community in which all persons have their basic needs met, empowering them to lead lives of self-dignity and well-being,” the Goochland Cares mission statement reads. 

The non-perishable food donations to Goochland Cares will benefit a number of food programs they run, including packing lunches for those in need and for students whose families were financially affected by COVID-19, Smart said.

The clothing donations will benefit the community of Life Church RVA community. The Life Church, “[inspires] people to live a better life through being the church, building the city and bridging the culture,” according to its website

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UR’s theme for black history month was centered around an Angela Davis quote: “Lifting as we climb”. The CCE, CSI and SCEI worked alongside students in order to celebrate UR’s black community and unite under this sentiment.

In similar cultural celebrations, such as Latinx Heritage Month, the SCEI always tries to include a service element, Morgan Russell-Stokes, Director of the SCEI, said.

While the other events of Black History Month included wellness events, educational programs and celebratory dinners, the drive was ongoing throughout the month of February, embodying the sentiment of the Black History Month theme, Smart and Brookins said.

Contact news writer Zoe Beede at

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