Santa's elves busy all year

November 30, 2006, vol.37, no.7
By Stuart Colcleugh

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Think of them as Santa's helpers, only these elves collect and distribute gifts to the needy all school year long. They are community advisors (CAs), more than 65 student staff members who manage programs, services and events for the 1,800-plus students living in SFU residences.

When they're not delivering programming, planning floor activities, providing individual advising and counselling referral, monitoring residences or just serving as role models, CAs spend much of their time dreaming up innovative activities to raise money for various charities. They call them inspiration projects, and this semester those projects included:

-   A weekend sandwich drive: CAs and 50-70 residents made and distributed 2,000 sandwiches to
residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

-   Pizza for Drunks raised $1,000 selling pizza after pub nights. The money supports a child in India
adopted through World Vision three years ago.

-   Halloween for Hunger: over 50 participants collected a mountain of canned goods for needy families in the Burnaby area.

Upcoming events include a casino night, part of the Rez Formal at the Diamond Alumni Centre Jan. 27, and a 30-hour famine.  In addition to helping the disadvantaged, the projects are a great way to mobilize residence community spirit, says Greg Mather, programming area coordinator, who helps coordinate the inspiration projects. One of the projects he's most excited about for next year is a weekly residence day at a New Westminster soup kitchen where students will lend a hand.

“We wanted to do something outside of the traditional holidays when there are lots of volunteers available,” says Mather, adding that his team is always looking for new volunteers (email

“These students think outside the box and just do some amazing work,” says Maureen (Mo) McConnell, residence life training manager. “I consider them the best of the best at SFU.”

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