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A Giving Place

Campus community responds this holiday season for those in need 

How do you make a difference in this world? If you ask members of the Bridgewater State University community the answer is easy: it’s by giving back. That can be as simple as offering a stranger a smile or volunteering your time to help those in need.  

“It’s really important to give when you can because you don’t know everyone’s story or situation,” said Elizabeth Sweeney, ’24, “It’s important to help people, not just at Bridgewater State, but beyond our campus.” 

Through her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, Elizabeth works with Girls on the Run, a national organization that helps to build confidence in young girls.  

The sorority hosts multiple events throughout the year, including the Moon Ball and a 3 v 3 basketball tournament held on the BSU campus that raised $1,500 that directly supported the cause.  

“We aren’t the only Greeks at Bridgewater giving back,” Elizabeth said. “Many of our fraternities and sororities give back to the community. Helping each other, bringing people together, building a sense of community...we want to be there for each other, to build a family.” 

President of Bears Who Care Faith Alves, ’25, believes Bridgewater State does all it can to foster inclusivity.  

“We have a strong community here at BSU, there are so many people looking out for each other. There is such a strong sense of hope and guidance, it’s a lot of people genuinely caring,” Faith said.  

As president of Bears Who Care, Faith’s main job is to oversee the BSU Food Pantry, located on the ground floor of the Rondileau Student Union.   

On November 28, aka Giving Tuesday, in just 24 hours the BSU community came together to raise more than $8,600 to directly support the food pantry. 

“The Bridgewater community continues to show up for one another, with sometimes large and sometimes small gestures, all of which make a big impact,” said Ellen Cuttle Oliver, chief development officer of alumni and development. “Giving Tuesday is all about shared humanity and generosity, so it doesn’t surprise me to see that our faculty, librarians, staff and alumni once again answered our call to support our students.” 

For the past 32 years, Assistant Vice President of Marketing, Communications, and Enrollment Eva Gaffney has done her part to make sure local families don’t go without during the holiday season, volunteering her time with the Taunton-based Operation Christmas program.  

The program is run through Citizens for Citizens Inc., a Massachusetts Community Action Agency that assists over 30,000 individuals in the Greater Fall River and Taunton areas. Over the years, Gaffney has reached out to the BSU community for donations, and the response is always overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s been a long relationship that continues. It’s been a pleasure working with them and helping the cause,” Gaffney said. “It’s just one way our institution has an impact on our communities.” 

Inspired by her late mother who led a group that collected toys and clothes for needy children in her native Nova Scotia, for the past 25 years Dr. Kim MacInnis, professor of sociology, has hosted a toy drive on campus. 

Each year she picks a different organization to support, this year the toy drive benefits the Conway House Shelter in Middleboro.  

“The BSU community is incredibly generous,” MacInnis said. “We are overwhelmed by the number of toys and clothes we receive from the campus.” Last year, we were able to help two shelters, she added. “BSU is full of amazing people and the toy drive could not exist without them.” 

The BSU Sociology Club, which MacInnis oversees, helped with the toy drive this year and led a winter coat drive, collecting clothing for the American Red Cross.  

Also hosting a winter coat drive this year was the BSU wrestling team. Members collected new and used coats for those in need that benefited Father Bill’s & MainSpring House in Brockton.  

For the third year in a row, BSU’s Military & Veteran Student Services collected toys for area children as part of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. 

“This is less about our office and more about letting the BSU community see the good work that we can do supporting the charitable missions of the military,” said Brian Duchaney, director of Military and Veteran Student Services. “This is a great way to showcase the dedication to community that servicemembers and veterans have.” 

For those who can’t give, Faith said, there are always other ways you can strengthen your community.  

“Small acts of kindness are in their own way, community service,” Faith said. “When you have the opportunity or energy, something as small as sharing a smile can make all the difference. It’s often hard just being a person, so it’s important to give back when you can and care about others.” 

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