More than $8,000 raised for our Living Campus thanks to Dawson volunteers

For 19 days in December, an empty storefront in Alexis-Nihon bustled with activity as a valiant squad of volunteers wrapped gifts: big ones, small ones, oddly shaped ones, hundreds of them. This special activity was offered to the College by the mall’s administration: to be the beneficiary of the gift-wrapping service leading up to the holidays. All supplies would be provided, except one. Dawson would have to provide the volunteer wrappers.

Nearly 200 people stepped up to help out, putting their names to hours and hours of shifts, including evenings and weekends. Not everyone got to participate as the Omicron variant wreaked havoc on the schedule, but the spirit was willing. Dawson faculty and staff, and a remarkable group of Dawson students made up the majority of volunteers, aided by a small contingent of Selwyn House staff and dozens of Loyola High School students.

Director General Diane Gauvin also staffed a shift and came away with a sense of pride in the Dawson community’s participation and enthusiasm. “It’s always so encouraging to see Dawson students and employees outside the College, lending a hand,” she said. “This was a remarkable group of people who took time out of their busy schedules, especially our students, many of whom were still writing exams and yet, showed goodwill to volunteer.”

Community building and reconnecting

The gift-wrapping activity, with all its staffing challenges due to COVID restrictions and fear of spread, managed to collect over $8,000 for the College’s Living Campus projects.

Living Campus as beneficiary gave Dawson an excellent opportunity to showcase the College’s ground-breaking, award-winning projects that have won it worldwide recognition, including the AASHE Gold. A source of pride, these efforts have been universally lauded by both our internal community and external partners and friends. But, it is important to note that the projects that fall outside the sphere of government-funded pedagogical activity are not funded at all.

The space was decorated in holiday themes, and included several colourful and informative displays on the shelves about Living Campus projects with booklets, looping videos on large computer screens, bee hives (empty), and sustainably produced products. Customers entering the store with no prior Dawson affiliation and those who had long graduated said they were impressed by the work Dawson had been doing in this area.

Most donated more than the suggested prices to have their gifts wrapped. Many shared their own stories about their Dawson experience and expressed a wish to support the College. The human contact alone was worth the time and effort of coordinating the activity, for which a debt of gratitude goes to Jennifer De Vera (Living Campus/Sustainable Dawson) for ensuring the quality of service and staffing every day of the gift-wrapping activity.


A small group can change the world!

Margaret Mead, the ground-breaking American anthropologist, said “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Dawson, though considered large by many, is but a tiny dot in the universe trying to make a big difference. Dawson has taken Mead’s words to heart through its dedication to Living Campus projects and practices. They are aspirational and inspirational and have the power to change the world, or at least, our little corner of it.

Dawson’s Living Campus

Anyone who has spent even a few hours at Dawson has heard of Living Campus, but what does it mean, really? In a nutshell, it is the creation of biodiversity zones and rooftop gardens, giving bees and monarch butterflies a place to thrive, engaging the whole community in climate action and well-being projects, building networks and relationships with like-minded partners locally and internationally, developing and offering the Sustainable Happiness certificate, supporting the First Peoples’ Centre and the Peace Centre, and of course, our signature project, the Peace Garden.

Years before the world caught on to the need to help the planet survive, Living Campus, in its various forms, was already developing cross-pollinating projects within Dawson’s academic, social, cultural and natural life, influencing and informing successive generations represented by faculty and staff, and most significantly, by our current students and future students, on the need for environmental responsibility.

With the $8,000 from the gift-wrapping fundraising activity and a number of donations that have been received over the Fall 2021 semester, Living Campus has raised more than $21,000 through personal donations, payroll deductions, anonymous donors and corporate supporters. An ambitious campaign to at least double that number will be launched this Earth Day, April 22.


Coming Up

  • To learn more, take a look at the Living Campus booklet that will be shared with potential supporters.
  • Achievements to date will be celebrated on Earth Day, April 22

Last Modified: January 19, 2022