Souhail Rostainajad and Michael Osmond
Souhail Rostainajad, left, and Michael Osmond

The holiday season is about giving, but it’s not about the gifts you buy: it’s about the time and money you give to help make a difference in the lives of others. As part of Giving Tuesday, the University of Guelph will host a “giving fair” in the UC courtyard Dec. 3.

According to its website, Giving Tuesday is “a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support non-profit organizations.”

At the giving fair, students will be able to meet with representatives from local charities, organizations and community partners, and learn about volunteer opportunities.

Organizers of the event encourage people to give back in any way they can, whether it’s by volunteering their time, bringing a non-perishable food item for the CSA Food Bank or donating to the University’s BetterPlanet Project (BPP) fundraising campaign. Text GTUOFG to 20222 to donate $10 to the BPP.

There’s no shortage of volunteers at U of G.

Human kinetics students Souhail Rostainajad and Michael Osmond recently organized an event on campus to raise money for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation in partnership with Motionball, a non-profit organization. More than 130 U of G students and Special Olympics athletes took part in sports and team-building activities in the Field House Nov. 16. The event raised $850.

“It was better than we expected,” says Rostainajad. He says the enthusiasm of the students and athletes was the most rewarding part of the event. The experience was a win for everyone involved, he adds, because they met new people, made new friends and had fun. “We believe that Special Olympic athletes have a lot of abilities,” he says. “They’re high-functioning athletes and they’re competing in every sport like everyone else. We just wanted to make sure they felt like part of the team.” He hopes the event will have a lifelong impact on the participants.

A main goal of the event was to learn from others through teamwork. As co-presidents of the Human Kinetics Student Association, says Osmond, “we knew that we wanted to try a different style of event that would not only entertain the human kinetics students like many past events that we’ve run. We also wanted this event to make the HK students think critically about something that may not be brought up in their studies.”

Sophie Kloppenburg, a third-year biomedical science student, has volunteered with the campus First Response Team since her first year at U of G. Volunteers respond to medical emergencies on campus and provide first aid. They’re on call from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours a day on weekends. “That’s definitely my biggest volunteer commitment,” says Kloppenburg, adding that responders volunteer between 40 to 50 hours per month.. She says her experience with the team will help her pursue a career in health care.

Kloppenburg also held a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s disease research by performing a solo vocal recital that raised more than $1,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society. “It’s close to my heart,” she says. Both of her grandmothers were diagnosed with the disease; one has passed away.