Cafe Night: Coffee for a Cause a Success, Students Raise Funds to Supply Local Police with Books and Toys for Children
Gian Minoia 12/15/2016
The sounds of Christmas jazz, the smell of coffee, and the sight of homemade baked goods greeted guests as they walked into Hawley Street’s YWCA last Friday: All of these being part of Cafe Night: Coffee for a Cause. The fundraiser event was organized by SUNY Broome student Kathryn Wills and her classmates from the Early Childhood Education course offered at the college in collaboration with Books to the Rescue Broome County.
Books to the Rescue! is an organization sweeping the nation with the goal of stocking first responder vehicles with new, engaging children’s books along with new stuffed animals. These resources are meant to soothe children in stressful, traumatic situations as well as promote literacy in communities.
When Kimberly Brown, Broome County coordinator for Books to the Rescue! visited Kathryn’s Early Childhood class to introduce the initiative, Kathryn and her classmates were eager to jump on board for their Service Learning projects. “The passion [Kim] exuded about it really got through to the students,” remembers Christine Webb, professor in the Education department. The aspiring teachers quickly got to work spreading awareness about Books to the Rescue!, which was important as Kathryn explained that “not a lot of people knew about this initiative.” Students organized bake sales and promoted their cause at a Fall Festival, eventually leading up to their Cafe Night: Coffee for a Cause.
The “Cafe Night” included Live music from local musicians including Corinne Roma, Brittany Miller, and a jazz ensemble, delicious baked goods provided by students, Nezunto’s Cafe, and Jaret’s Stuffed Cupcakes, hot beverages including coffee and hot cocoa, a number of basket raffles, beautiful artwork on display by Meg Reynolds, and book readings for children by local police officers.
The Service Learning Initiative is an important element of SUNY Broome’s Teacher Education program, and aims to promote community service and teamwork among pre-service teachers. For their Service Learning project, students are asked to seek out a local cause to promote or serve, reflecting afterwards on their experience working in the community. Christine Webb described the initiative as “an opportunity to seek out agencies that support our community,” and Kathryn Wills saw in the large-group project a way to “value other people’s opinions and goals.”
The long-awaited event was a success: Cafe Night combined with previous fundraisers throughout the semester raised over eight hundred dollars, and Kim predicts that the funds will fill four duffel bags with high-quality books and stuffed animals.
The students and Books to the Rescue Broome County would like to thank the following offices and departments from SUNY Broome who donated materials to this cause: The Admissions, Foundations, and International Studies offices, as well as the departments of Liberal Arts, Learning Assistance, and Communications.
The Service Learning Initiative promotes positive contribution to our local community, and the students working to serve Books to the Rescue truly embody this type of learning. Kathryn hopes that her work with the foundation will help to strengthen “the bond between police officers and their community,” as well as provide “comfort [to children] in a time of need.”
Pictures by Kathryn Wills