University YMCA to participate in #GivingTuesday

Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the University YMCA on Tuesday will participate in #GivingTuesday, a national social media movement aimed to encourage people to give back to their communities, donate to charities and support various causes.

The University YMCA used Facebook and Twitter to promote the event, and the social media platforms continue to be the primary tools through which the community can donate. By following a secure link on the YMCA’s Facebook page or Twitter account, @UniversityYUIUC, online users can donate money by inputting their credit card information and choosing a recipient for their donation. The University YMCA also sent out tweets and Facebook posts leading up to the day-long event, which encouraged its viewers to give, said Alicia Beck, development director of the University YMCA.

The movement was founded in 2012 by a core group of founding partners, one of which includes the United Nations Foundation.

“Giving Tuesday is a counter narrative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it reminds us that the spirit of the holiday-giving season should be about community and not just consumerism,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation, in a press release. “The most meaningful gift we can give our children, loved ones, friends and neighbors is the commitment to work together to help build a better world.”

Beck said that in this season of generosity it is important for people to remember that they are participants in a community. She said that “as community members, our gifts can make our community stronger, and when we participate together in that, giving the gift is even greater.”

Beck said the YMCA’s goal is to raise $25,000, which will go toward a number of student programs that engage with the community. The programs include tutoring programs in Champaign-Urbana public schools, Alternative Spring Break service projects and other causes. The donations received by the University YMCA will also help with the organization’s global health initiative and environmental sustainability issues. “The money that we raise helps support those students programs, and in turn those students programs give a lot of volunteer hours,” she said. “Online is an easy arena for people to participate in because they don’t have to write a physical check or come in and give a donation.”

Sally Feng, Student Board chair at the University YMCA and senior in LAS, is a member of Alternative Spring Break, a registered student organization on campus and one of the organizations that will receive donations from #GivingTuesday. Feng said that participants of ASB travel across the country to learn about and combat social justice and environmental issues. Through ASB, students have the chance to both grow as individuals and give beyond the local community, she said.

“#GivingTuesday is an excellent reminder to be grateful. We always want what we don’t have, but we may not realize that what we have is more precious than what we don’t have,” Feng said.

Another RSO that will benefit from #GivingTuesday is Invisible Conflicts, which is “committed to exposing the ‘invisible’ conflicts overlooked by mainstream media, governments, and international institutions,” according to the University’s RSO database.

“My hope for this year is able to sustain our resources for our staff and personnel and that we continue our activities despite budget cuts,” said Paul Dolmon, Invisible Conflicts president, secretary on the University YMCA’s student board and senior in LAS.

Beck said she hopes people will value #GivingTuesday because the campaign will help create tomorrow’s leaders and improve their communities.

“A lot of students find what their passion is in life here at the Y,” she said. “Students will find out that they are really passionate about health, education issues or environmental issues. They discovered that here at the Y, and they will go on and engage in those things for the rest of their life, whether it’s through their work or through their volunteer activities.”

This is the first year the University YMCA participated in #GivingTuesday. Beck said The University YMCA wanted to be a part of #GivingTuesday because it’s promoting giving to the community during a time of year that focuses on giving gifts.

Ariana can be reached at apconne2@dailyillini.com.