December 15, 2013
Winter Wonderland at UMass Dartmouth
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! With all the holiday cheer, bright lights shining about and the wonderful, crisp feeling of winter, this is the perfect opportunity to go out and enjoy as many holiday happenings as possible! On Thursday, December 4th, I went to UMass Dartmouth to check out their fifth annual Winterfest. There has been a lot of negative news about Umass Dartmouth recently. After all the tragedies we have seen in the past year, I found it was time to shed some light on what a wonderful university it is. They constantly strive for their students to have a strong community and it truly showed after I spent three hours circling the tables and soaking in the merriment of Winterfest.
Being a student at UMass Dartmouth myself, I tried to make sure that I got involved with as many activities as I could handle during my time here. One of my first and greatest activities was to join Zeta Lambda Chi, Umass Dartmouth’s first and only co-ed fraternity. Being a part of Greek life is all about giving back to your community, so Z.L.X decided five years ago to host UMD’s very own Winterfest. When asking Donald Dow, the treasurer of Z.L.X and co-organizer of Winterfest, what Winterfest is about and means to him, he replied. “It is all about gathering of the students and local community to celebrate the winter season and its holidays. It is a great opportunity for the campus to come together. It is one of the last events before finals so it gives the students something to do and relax.”
Winterfest is one of the biggest philanthropic events at Umass Dartmouth, alongside their Relay For Life and Dance Marathon. During previous years, they have accumulated up to 20 different organizations tabling for individual causes. Most of the tabling include making ornaments, raffles, canned goods for shelters, cards for veterans, pictures with Santa and Build-a-Bear workshop. Winterfest is located at Umass Dartmouth’s main campus center. Z.L.X members will dedicate their time to decorate the center each year with Christmas trees, fake snow, lights all around, presents under the tree and of course, Christmas music.
This year, there was a total of 5 different organizations who tabled around the campus center. The first was Z.L.X’s own table that consisted of the traditional ornament making for anyone who was interested. I couldn’t stop myself from making an ornament or two! After I finished up, I scrolled down the walk way to the Outdoors Club’s table. They dedicate most of their time creating weekend trips. They strive to do two to three events a weekend and that includes anything outdoors, such as kayaking, hiking, white water rafting and rock climbing at Carabiner’s. For Winterfest, they hosted arts and crafts for kids, including a scratch tickets raffle and candy for all around.
Net Impact was another table that I visited. They focus on sustainable business, career development that is about social sustainability, green activities and school and community development. The organization has also created their very own GRI reporting, which promotes sustainability. They are a global organization that have head quarters located in California. For Winterfest, they hosted their own raffle that included a donated 20” T.V and also smaller gifts such as reusable bottles. It is a great organization that is determined to open the minds of the students to create a more sustainable living. Go green or go home!
Have a passion for art? The National Art Education Association, Umass Dartmouth Student Chapter showed their support by making snow globes to promote creativity within the community. They had people sign cards for soldiers overseas during the holidays and were selling their adorable “I Heart Art” pins. The organization focuses on art education for the community, craft tables for kids, community volunteerism and professional development for future art educators. They are a small group and would love to see people interested in becoming art educators and spread creativity to the community!
The last table that I interviewed was FMLA, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. They are a newly found organization and are dedicated to bring awareness to students about feminism and women’s rights.
“We want everyone to be more politically and socially involved in women’s position in the world” said Rama Almaleh, a Zeta Lambda Chi member and a Junior in Medical Laboratory Science.
For their part in Winterfest, they offered a can and clothing donation drive for New Bedford Harbor House and as students who couldn’t donate, to show their support by signing their poster.
When asked what Winterfest meant to them, Maddie Hernandez, co-organizer of Winterfest, member of FMLA and a Senior in Jewelry and Metals art had this to say:
“Winterfest makes me feel really positive and warm because all these organizations are different but here for the same reason, which is to work together to help out in our local foundations”.
Maddie is right. There is a certain positive air that fills your head once you step into that campus center. And not only the warmth of it all but the collectiveness of a wonderful community that dedicates their time to making the holidays fun and joyous for others, that fills your heart with Christmas spirit.
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