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November 2008

Crisis requires us all to share

With the global economic crisis ever present, finances are on everyone's minds these days. We've all seen the gloomy headlines detailing the impact around the world, our nation, across the state and here at home in the Triangle and Orange County.

The university exists to serve the people of North Carolina, and we have talked a lot on campus in the past several months with excitement about being a place where our students will learn how to solve the world's great problems.

But with the approach of the holiday season and the toll that the economic crisis is taking on so many people in our own community, I wanted to say a word in this space about the importance of all of us helping others in need this year.

Many of our neighbors are turning to charitable organizations for help to get through these hard times. It matters that these worthy groups have the resources they need, especially with the approach of wintry weather.

At Carolina, we support these groups as a campus primarily through the annual State Employees Combined Campaign (SECC), which assists almost 900 charities and nonprofit organizations. Despite the unsettled financial climate, the Carolina community is more than halfway to its $800,000 fundraising goal for the 2008 "Carolina Cares-Carolina Shares" campaign.

The campaign was recently extended to Dec. 18 to encourage additional needed support. Several local businesses have done their part, too, by donating goods and services that are awarded to contributors.

Another way the Carolina community contributes is through our annual winter holiday blood drive, to be held Dec. 16 this year. The American Red Cross collects blood year-round on our campus, but the winter drive occurs at a critical time of year, when blood collections typically are low due to travel. They still need more donors and volunteers for this drive, by the way.

These two drives focus on university faculty and staff, but much of Carolina's reputation for generosity and public service comes from the actions of our exceptional students. Each year, our student-athletes organize a canned food drive for Thanksgiving and also participate in Share Your Holiday, which provides presents for underprivileged families.

Most of the 28 teams in the athletics department purchase and wrap gifts matching wish lists from social service organizations and then deliver the gifts to the families. At the Campus Y, the Hunger and Homelessness Outreach Project (HOPE) is sponsoring a warm clothing drive, asking for donations of warm clothes in good condition for homeless persons in our community.

And these are only two small examples of the wonderful ways our Tar Heel students give of themselves to their adopted home.

Recent events in the financial world have reverberated in Chapel Hill. There's no getting around that. But considering the impact in other parts of the globe and our nation, we are still fortunate.

We have a forward-looking economy based on the pursuit of knowledge and the development of new technologies. And just as we look to the future for our economic growth, we should also pay forward the blessings we enjoy now to those who are looking to us for help.

 

Holden Thorp is chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Readers can contact him at holden_thorp@unc.edu.





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