By Sara Douglass – News Editor
William Paterson University students were encouraged to spread the love this Valentine’s season by making themed goodie bags for the children at Oasis, a safe haven for women and children in Paterson.
“Operation: Valentine,” hosted by Iota Phi Theta, Alpha Kappa Psi, B.A.B.Y. Dolls and Campus Activities, Service & Leadership, gave students the opportunity to give back for a holiday that is often over-commercialized.
“Honestly, not everyone is in a romantic relationship, so no one should feel secluded during this time,” said Myranda Barreau, assistant director of CASL. “Everyone should feel the love and that’s what we’re here to do.”
The idea for “Operation: Valentine” came from Emmett Jones, a member of Iota Phi Theta and a broadcast journalism major, who felt Oasis was the perfect outlet for Valentine’s Day cheer. Though William Paterson University has done multiple community service activities with Oasis in the past, Jones hopes this can be the start of a partnership between them and the fraternity.
“Any type of love and positivity that we can spread, whether it be as small as in your community or at a larger scale, is great,” Jones said.
Signe Howard, volunteer coordinator at Oasis, says the organization relies heavily on all of its volunteers and that the students at William Paterson really benefit by experiencing all the ways the organization helps the women and children of Paterson.
“It is important for all of us in a larger community to work together to help one another,” Howard said. “We can do this by learning about each other’s lives and how we ultimately can work together to become better human beings and a stronger community.”
The University Commons club lounge had a party-like atmosphere with music blaring and students shuffling in and out while preparing goodie bags. Each bag was packed with pencils, puzzles, candy, a stuffed bear and hand made cards from the student volunteers.
“I think it’s important during this holiday season that we showcase that love, that we’re the example, where students can see this university as an institution that cares about the surrounding communities,” Barreau said.
Members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, along with other student volunteers, already had plans to serve lunch at Oasis on Feb. 10 for a program called “Lunches with Love” so they will be the ones delivering the goodie bags to the children.
“We figured this would be a great pre-activity,” Barreau said. “We wanted to bring something with us because it is an underprivileged neighborhood and we wanted to show our love in honor of Valentine’s Day.”
The Iota Phi Theta fraternity is planning a variety of community service activities for the month of February that students should keep their eye out for, said Jones.