Clothing drive aids Holyoke families

BY SAVANNAH HARRIMAN-POTE ’20

Dec. 6 marked the conclusion of the C.A.U.S.E. board’s three-week long winter apparel drive. According to their Facebook page, the C.A.U.S.E board will now give all Mount Holyoke students’ donations of “new or gently used winter clothing” to their two community partners in Holyoke, Enlace de Familias and Nueva Esperanza. 

The C.A.U.S.E. board, which stands for “Create Awareness and Unity for Social Equity,” is a part of Mount Holyoke’s Community Based Learning program that educates students on how to be effective social justice advocates and encourages students to engage with the Pioneer Valley through volunteer and service opportunities.

In October, the C.A.U.S.E. board hosted an open meeting for students, faculty and community members to discuss how Mount Holyoke can support disaster relief efforts in light of the series of extreme natural disasters that occurred this past year. The C.A.U.S.E. board’s winter apparel drive is a continuation of those efforts: all donations will go to families that have recently arrived in Holyoke and the C.A.U.S.E. board hopes to aid families arriving from Puerto Rico in particular, many of whom were displaced by Hurricane Maria. 

“These donations will help because Puerto Rico is extremely hot year round so there is no need for winter apparel,” said Gabby Hernandez ’19, one of the C.A.U.S.E board’s liaisons. “The people who are moving here will be starting over, so the purpose of the drive is to make sure they’ll have clothes that are suitable for the winter and make the process a bit easier.”

The winter apparel drive faced challenges after members of the C.A.U.S.E. board noticed that items were being taken out of the donation boxes, as well as trash being thrown into the boxes. But Hernandez said the C.A.U.S.E. board collected many articles of clothing during one of their pick ups last Wednesday, and called the overall effort a “huge success.”

Hernandez appreciated the dedication of the C.A.U.S.E. board and contributions of Mount Holyoke students. “I’m half Puerto Rican so the drive means a lot to me,” she said. “Seeing how much the other board members and our advisor, Angelica Castro, cared made me happy. Many have been displaced and are moving to places like Holyoke and Orlando, FL. If the drive makes this whole process a little bit easier, I’ll be happy.”

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