Charity and free bus rides: York is U wraps up a busy fall term

York is U, the student alumni program of York University, has put the wraps on a busy fall term. The intrepid students organized a charity food, toy and clothing drive and a series of movie nights, while the York is U Kindness Crew distributed transit tokens to students in bus line-ups on the Keele campus.

Here’s a recap of some of their events:

For the third year in a row, during the month of November, York is U urged the York community to dig deep and donate non-perishable food items, toys and clothes for those less fortunate. York is U coordinated the drive with the assistance of various clubs, residences and on-campus departments, including Facilities Services and Student Community & Leadership Development.

 Above: Members of the York is U team with the results of their charity drive

Donations were accepted for charities and organizations operating in the Jane-Finch communities. By month’s end, a total over 25 garbage bags full of toys, clothing and canned food were collected.

“The outcome of this year’s Charity Drive is truly incredible,” said Reta Franci, a third-year psychology student and coordinator for the event. “As a community, we have reached our goal but more importantly, we have touched the lives of many.”

Throughout the fall term, the student alumni association also organized the York is U 5-Star Movie nights. The movie nights offer York students an opportunity to see current films at student-friendly prices.  

Right: York is U volunteers staffed the concession stand during the York is U 5-Star Movie nights

Starting with the popular film Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and continuing with Red Eye, Batman Begins and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, over 500 students came to movie nights during the fall term. The Curtis Lecture Hall L was transformed into a movie theatre complete with a concession stand that offered popcorn and soft drinks. All of the movie nights were staffed by volunteers from the York is U team.

“I was delighted to see different groups of students come for our movies all the time,” said Huma Qureshi, charity and entertainment director of York is U.

As a new initiative this year, during some movie nights, there were special themes, such as Batman-inspired decorations for Batman Begins, and free chocolate bars for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Left: York is U 5-star Movie Night coordinators Kiran Singh (left), Whitney Dunning and Sharmila Sundaralingam

“I enjoyed coordinating the best entertainment on campus,” said Whitney Dunning, a third-year psychology student and coordinator for the event.

Movie nights will continue in the winter term with planned screenings of the popular films Chicken Little and Harry Potter: The Goblet of Fire.

Not to be outdone by movie nights and other events, the York is U ambassadors choose random days in the fall term to undertake acts of kindness, surprising unsuspecting York University students. One particularly successful Kindness Crew event took place on Wednesday, Oct. 12 when the ambassadors took over Toronto Transit Commission bus stops shouting “Token or Dime”. The York is U ambassadors mixed TTC tokens and dimes in a bag (the naked eye has trouble distinguishing a dime from a token), and walked along the line-up at the bus stops. Every student was offered the opportunity to pull a coin from the bag, which would turn out to be either a token or a dime. Potentially, the student could either get a free TTC ride or be 10 cents richer.

At first, people were resistant to taking the coin, but attitudes began to change as students pulled tokens and dimes and received a Kindness Crew Souvenir that said,  “You have been touched by the Kindness Crew. Spread the kindness and make York a better place.”

In the eyes of affected students, the Kindness Crew made an impact. There were expressions of shock and surprise at the bus stops. One student who had forgotten her bus pass at home put her hand in the bag and pulled out a token. York is U’s community outreach director, Farhan Ali, described her reaction. “The expression on her face: unbelievable!” said Ali. “I have never seen the TTC bus stop so upbeat. Some people who got tokens, perhaps a few of them, needed the tokens more than others and these people will always remember our message.”

Visit the York is U Web site to learn more about York’s student alumni program.