“Make a Difference Week” helps victims of North Bay fires and impacts the Bay Area community

2015 redesigned Pioneer logo.

Tam Duong Jr.

2015 redesigned Pioneer logo.

Trevor Wyatt,

Over the course of two days earlier this month, students at Cal State East Bay’s campus filled two offices with donations for the North Bay fire victims. They donated clothes, canned goods, blankets, toiletries, school supplies and other items.

“I want to give someone things that we may take for granted on a daily basis, like basic necessities that you do not even realize are that important to our daily life,” one anonymous student told the Pioneer.

The Center for Community Engagement focuses on contributing to the well-being of the local community. They collaborated with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputies who then transported all the donations to victims in need in the North Bay.

The donation campaign was part of “Make a Difference Week,” which was originally known as “Make a Difference Day.” But three years ago, it was expanded to a full week.

Make a Difference Week has been active since 1992, and the East Bay campus began participating 12 years ago. Make a Difference Day now takes place on all 23 California State University campuses, according to Andrea Wells, Senior Coordinator for Operations & Partnerships in the Center for Community Engagement. Make a Difference Week took place this year from Oct. 24 through Oct. 28.

East Bay campus’ Center for Community Engagement is collaborating with Sonoma State University, Sacramento State University, and Maritime Academy to send students to these campuses to assist in North Bay fire recovery efforts once the fires have been contained and the debris has been alleviated.

Students will partake in the recovery process and assist locals in cleaning up affected areas. Donations will be sent up north and will be distributed to various schools and homes for those who lost their belongings in the fires. This will more than likely not take place till the Spring quarter to ensure the safety of students. More is in place to aid those in need in the North Bay besides the donation station and student volunteers. The campuses in the North Bay will remain in contact with Cal State East Bay for any additional donations.

Many donated goods this year were intended for victims of the North Bay fires, but the Make a Difference campaign extends beyond the Bay Area. Once goods are collected, they get distributed to a wide range of areas of need. For example, Medshare, a non-profit organization, redistributes medical supplies on shipping containers to dozens of countries in need, such as Greece or Nigeria, according to Wells. Make a Difference Week also helped connect people to service fairs and a student leadership conference.

The Center for Community Engagement is responsible for finding and contacting agencies who need volunteers and hosts Make a Difference Week. The Center has numerous partnerships with social service, government agencies, community service projects, as well as community based learning classes. As part of Make a Difference Week, Cal State East Bay also sent a survey to local businesses in the Tennyson area in Hayward to get feedback for what they would like to see in that area, according to Patrick Prusinovski, the Student Engagement Coordinator for the Student Life and Leadership Program.

Keep Hayward Clean and Green Task Force is another staple organization that partakes in Make a Difference Week. Keep Hayward Green and Clean is an agency that addresses issues that affect the community’s overall appearance and looks to combine volunteer workers and local businesses in uplifting the city of Hayward. East Bay students, as well as local volunteers will be participating in a mural painting, landscaping in local parks, and other activities, according to Prusinovski.