Towson Student Recognizes Giving from University Store 

2/24/12
 
The Towson University Bookstore, Towson, MD, was just trying to help with its donation of outdated and overstock merchandise to a campus student group that is building an elementary school in Honduras.
 
Student Elliot Glotfelty made sure the store’s generosity did not go unnoticed, penning a thank-you note that appeared in the student newspaper. The bookstore contribution was personal for Glotfelty, who has traveled to the South American village of Villa Soleada to work on the project as a member of the Central American Children’s Institute and Students Helping Honduras.
 
“I thought the letter was very sweet,” said Katie Simmons-Barth, marketing and retail supervisor. “I know the student, but I didn’t know he had written the letter. The next day, the student group brought me this gorgeous picture they took with ‘thank you’ written all over the mat. It’s beautiful and it hangs in my office. I am very proud of the work we do with them.”
 
The Towson students started working on the Villa Soleada school during a January 2011 visit, with six students returning last summer with approximately 600 lbs. of goods from the college store. In January 2012, 53 more students were back in Honduras to continue work on the school and to bring more donated merchandise.
 
“I asked them what kinds of things they needed and they said, ‘Anything,’” Simmons-Barth said. “The people and children there in Honduras are living in dirt huts and literally sleeping on dirt floors.”
 
The donations consisted of unsellable merchandise from the store, including children’s shoes, clothing, and blankets. Some of the items had the wrong collegiate logos, slight damage, or had discolored from storage.
 
“A lot of it was merchandise we’ve had for years,” Simmons-Barth said. “Our campus had changed its licensing for our images and we’ve updated some things. Some of the goods were either imagery that was outdated or we just couldn’t use anymore. It was no longer in sellable condition and we donated that to them.”
 
She even went through her personal belongings for items to donate.
 
“My partner and I collected clothes from our families and we went through our entire house and found every donation we could possibly give,” Simmons-Barth said. “I rounded up a couple of big bags and came in on my day off to deliver it all.”
 
The store also places cans at its registers for customers to donate spare change to student causes throughout the year, and permits groups to set up fund-raising tables in front of its location. One store employee is using the space to sell Honduran jewelry to help finance her trip with the group the next time it travels to Villa Soleada.
 
“I don’t know that we gave that much, but students definitely know we support groups and that we gave them as much as we possibly can,” Simmons-Barth said. “It changes people’s point of view. We used to be seen as the store that just takes money for textbooks and now we’re giving back. It’s important to be active on campus and to show students we are involved, we do care, and we want to assist when we can.”
 
The University Bookstore is even kicking around the idea of sending staff members to participate in the program.
 
“This is something that is very important,” Simmons-Barth said. “If I were to go, I think it would drive me to do more.”
 
The Towson students have a goal of raising $50,000 for the Honduran effort and have raised more than $7,300 to date. For more information on the effort, go to www.ceciskids.org.
 
 

 

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