Dec 02, 2020
By Mike Hogan, ’21
Bonnies have been known to band together in both good times and challenging times. In a year unlike any other, the St. Bonaventure University community rallied to give $69,364.56 in support of Franciscan values during #GivingTuesdayatBonas.
The final tally shattered the $40,000 goal that had been established at the outset of the fundraiser.
More than 500 donors contributed to the online crowdfunding event, raising money for the many service, advocacy and social justice programs within Bona’s Franciscan Center for Social Concern (FCSC).
“We teach our students how to live in this world as Franciscan-hearted people. Their service changes lives, including their own,” said Alice Miller Nation, director of the FCSC. “That’s why I’m so very thankful for the generosity and compassion of the many people who joined in this effort and donated, allowing the good work to continue.”
Student stories throughout the event illustrated the transformational power of the FCSC programs, which students participate in to serve the St. Bonaventure and Greater Olean communities.
A senior at St. Bonaventure, Victoria Wangler joined Bona Buddies in fall 2020 after many semesters of having interest in the program. She said the best part of being a Bona Buddy mentor is the chance to be a positive influence in someone else’s life.
“I have been so blessed to receive tremendous encouragement, guidance, and love from the guiding figures in my life,” she said. “Bona Buddies provides the chance for college students to be figures of love and light within the local community for its children.”
Three summers ago, Miller Nation could not have been more surprised when she found out that students living and working on St. Bonaventure's campus struggled to have enough food to get through a week due to a lack of money and other resources.
Her vision for the SBU Food Pantry became a reality in October 2019, and it’s been a hit ever since.
“I am so proud we turned Alice's idea to combat food insecurity on our campus into a reality,” senior Grace Seeley, who helps Miller Nation run the Food Pantry, said. “This is important to me because not only is it helping our Bonaventure community now, it will continue to do so even after I graduate. I am thankful to have been a part of that.”
The Warming House, located at 164 N. Union St. in Olean, New York, is considered the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the country, serving a hot meal to those in need six days a week.
As the coronavirus pandemic commenced, student and community volunteers quickly transitioned the usual sit-down meals into a takeout service. By the end of July, they had served more meals this year than in all of 2019.
“We want that Franciscan heart to be taken from Bona’s to boardrooms, conference rooms, classrooms and athletic fields,” Miller Nation said.
The FCSC offers internships, service experiences and leadership opportunities, several with a focus on the causes and solutions to social problems.
Money raised during #GivingTuesdayatBonas allows students to continue a variety of service work, including: providing nourishment and fellowship at the Warming House: serving as role models for local children through Bona Buddies; helping care for homeless animals at the SPCA; offering a wide variety of fresh and frozen food through the Food Pantry; and learning about sustainable agriculture and service with the Farm to Table program.
For more information about the FCSC or to volunteer, please contact Alice Miller Nation at email@example.com or (716) 375-7813. To make a donation, please visit www.sbu.edu/donate.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2020, St. Bonaventure was named the #2 regional university value in New York and #3 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.