HAVEN is also the county’s only 24-hour emergency center for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors and their children, according to its website.
“Oakland partners with HAVEN a lot,” said Brittany Kleinschmidt, an OUSC legislator and creator of the Help Out HAVEN initiative. “But I think this might be the first time OUSC has partnered with them.”
Kleinschmidt is a freshman at Oakland and said the program came about through the LGBTQIA+ resource fair. At this event, the Residence Halls Association brought out different student and local organizations to aid LGBTQ students on campus.
OUSC was one of the student organizations tabling at this event, where members met some of HAVEN’s volunteers.
“We really just loved what they did,” said Helen Thompson, an OUSC legislator who aided Kleinschmidt in creating the event. “They were very nice people, too.”
In addition, the two were inspired by Grizz Gives to Kids, a program from last year. The program let OU students donate toys to kids in need. Kleinschmidt decided that, instead of simply repeating the last year’s project, she wanted to do something new and help out a different charity.
“I kind of wanted to reinvent it,” she said. “I didn’t want to just carry on the tradition. It’s a great tradition, but I wanted to do something my own.”
Help Out HAVEN came about thanks to an initiative budget OUSC had access too. Using the money, Kleinschmidt and Thompson were able to order 60 zip-up hoodies to be used as incentives to encourage donations.
To get one of the jackets, students needed to donate two full-size toiletry items or any two other items from HAVEN’s wish list, which is available on HAVEN’s website and at the OUSC office.
However, just over a week after the event started, they were already out of hoodies.
“Way more people have been donating than we were expecting,” Kleinschmidt said. “We have six boxes filled with stuff, which is amazing.”
Thompson said, although a lot of research and planning went into the event, a bill was not required to be presented to OUSC because the cost of the drive was within the initiative budget of $1,000.
“[The lack of hoodies] is an awesome problem to have, really,” Thompson said. “We got a lot more donations than we asked for.”
Instead of ordering more hoodies, and thus spending more money, Kleinschmidt and Thompson received 30 additional crewnecks from another OUSC legislator who ordered them for an upcoming event she plans on running. So, students donating during the last few days of the drive can still receive their sweaters.
Help Out HAVEN runs until Friday, Feb. 17. Donations should be brought to the OUSC office during office hours.