How do you persuade a community to come together to reach a common goal?  How do you encourage its members to create solutions for problems that they face?  These are questions that Warmth From the Millyard, New Hampshire’s statewide collaborative clothing drive, has set out to answer.  The mission of Warmth From the Millyard is “to create a model of leadership development and academic engagement that demonstrates how to mobilize individuals and community partners of all ages into collaborative action through specific projects such as warm clothing drives.”

Beginning in 2007 the UNH Manchester Community Leadership (CoLead) program organized the Warmth from the Millyard (WFMY) warm clothing drive. Each fall students in Community Service and Leadership classes partnered with local businesses, schools, government organizations, and non-profit agencies to raise awareness about, and create a response to, the need for warm clothing across New Hampshire. The students, working with the community, brought in over 24,000 items of warm clothing and distributed them to over 60 receiving organizations and groups.

What makes WFMY different than other clothing drives is our tailored approach to the specific needs of each agency that we work with.  We collect information from them about the population they serve and the items they need, and search for a donor business or group in their area to hold a drive only for that agency, collecting explicitly the items they asked for.  This is a more efficient use of both the agency and business’ time and resources, and more effectively serves NH residents in need.  This also allows a relationship to develop between the recipient agency and donor group, as it is expected they will communicate together to work out the details of the drive.  When donors can see where their donations are going, they also do not have the uncertainty of knowing if their clothing is actually helping people in the community.

In addition to hosting clothing drives, WFMY also offers learning opportunities for students of all educational levels.  WFMY’s Reading Makes a Difference project encourages elementary school students to read, and awards them for doing so.  Our program using service and leadership curriculum teaches middle and high school students the importance of community leadership using the project as a service-learning vehicle.  UNH Manchester students are able to become involved with the project as interns, volunteers, service-learners, or use their work on the project as an independent study.

Warmth From the Millyard will continue to be the catalyst for initiatives on campus and in the community. By continually expanding the clothing drive, acquiring new community partners, and adding to our already growing programs, it is our hope that this project will be shared as a model of community engagement with learning institutions nationwide.

The Warmth from the Millyard warm clothing drive is a collaborative student-run initiative between the University of New Hampshire at Manchester and the UNH Community Leadership (CoLead) Program.


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