Giving Tuesday began in the heart of New York to encourage people to become more engaged in their communities and spread more kindness into the world.
The annual global movement takes place on the Tuesday after Black Friday and has a simple goal: to practice generosity. This can be through charitable donations, helping a stranger, or simply paying someone a compliment.
This year it was on November 29th, and according to CanadaHelps, “GivingTuesday 2022 raised upwards of $13 million and supported 9,183 charities across Canada in a mere 24 hours.”
VIU has their own Giving Tuesday Campaign, beginning when the larger movement did in 2014.
This year it ran for two weeks beginning on November 15 and it finished as one of the most successful campaign outcomes VIU has ever seen, with over $515k raised for students.
Richard Horbachewski, the Associate Vice-President of External Relations and the Executive Director of the VIU Foundation, says, “When I see the numbers, I am just humbled by the generosity of the community by our faculty, by our staff, and from our community.”
The money will be used for bursaries, scholarships, awards, and programs to help support the student community.
One student who benefited from this funding is Makayla Taylor, who received an entrance award during her first year at VIU.
She says, “These programs provide financial support to low-income students. People who want to contribute should have the means to do so.”
Those contributions can be life changing for students who are financially struggling.
“Affluent individuals or organizations positively affect students through programs like these, and can act as a gateway for some individuals to receive an education at all,” Taylor says.
Funding is crucial for education, and most students take up jobs to support themselves throughout their time in university. Resources are available, but is it enough to keep the student community afloat?
Taylor is grateful for the financial help she’s received, but believes more should be provided by VIU itself, rather than relying on monetary donations because “VIU is provincially subsidized and receives substantial revenue through tuition.”
I spoke with Tianna Vertigan, a VIU student and Copy Editor for the Nav about her experience with the President’s High School Entrance Scholarship that she received.
She also feels like VIU could better support students in trying times by easing some of the pressure that can come with receiving a scholarship or award.
She explains that if the recipients of the President’s scholarship GPA drops below the required 3.67, they lose their scholarship for the rest of their time at VIU.
With Giving Tuesday’s record-breaking donation pool this year, Vertigan’s suggests VIU updates the policy so struggling students don’t miss out on all the funding.
“The ideal scenario would be that you don’t lose your scholarship entirely, but only for that semester,” she says.
Additionally, there are still high expenses that students are expected to pay, like parking passes, textbooks, and Activity Fees that aren’t included.
Not to mention housing and food prices, which are only going up with inflation.
“We understand that with the rising costs of living and inflation, all these costs impact our students,” Horbachewski says. “Giving Tuesday is an opportunity for the community to support students.”
One of VIU’s programs is the Give a Meal program, which allocates gift cards and food vouchers for VIU’s cafeteria to students in need.
“We highly encourage students to speak to their campus ambassadors, peer leaders, wellness support, and student leaders in residence,” Horbachewski says. “We have resources available to discuss how best to help them out of their situation.”
I spoke with Angela Meneghetti, the Financial Aid Access Specialist. Her role is to increase access to education for populations that typically experience barriers in their educational endeavours.
Meneghetti says, “Financial Aid & Awards is committed to supporting students in their search for financial assistance, both in the form of loans, grants and awards, and in helping students make the best use of these resources.”
Those looking to apply can visit the Financial Aid & Awards website.
It’s also important to know that the community you’re studying in is there to watch you grow and cheer you on.
“100% of each donation from the Giving Tuesday Campaign goes directly to the donor’s chosen cause,” Meneghetti says.
The causes that are available are the International Student Emergency Fund, Milner Gardens and Woodland Project Fund, REACH Award Fund, VIU Access Fund, President’s Awards Fund, and others.
Students can still participate in Giving Tuesday without having to open their wallets by searching for ways to give back to the community, like opening a door for someone, picking up garbage, or even sending a friend a message that they are appreciated.
The most important aspect of the movement is spreading kindness and generosity for others and yourself.
“These initiatives target areas that can potentially overwhelm the student’s overall learning experience,” Meneghetti says. “We are grateful to be a part of these amazing initiatives—big or small—as they are making a difference in the lives of our students.”
Recent years have been challenging and we are all still healing after COVID, but—especially as students—we need to lean on and support one another.
Kindness and generosity come through to us free of charge.
And the wonderful thing about kindness is that it ripples. The tiniest bit of generosity can trail on for years to come, because it’s powerful and contagious in nature.
VIU’s Giving Tuesday is still open for those who wish to donate—while it’s celebrated for just two weeks in November, the spirit of Giving Tuesday is present all year long.
“I want to give a heartfelt thank you to the community. We couldn’t do what we do without their support,” Horbachewski says.
If you are interested in donating, check out the VIU Foundation’s Ways to Give.