UMass Amherst Caring & Sharing Campaign Hits Highest Total to Date in Dollars and Participation

AMHERST, Mass. - The officers of the UMass chapter of Psi Chi, the national honor society for psychology students, were singled out for special thanks at a breakfast meeting held Jan. 29 in the Campus Center to celebrate the successful conclusion of the University''s annual COMECC Caring & Sharing drive.

COMECC stands for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign, which supports many regional, national, and international social service and environmental agencies including the United Way campaign.

To assist in the UMass drive, Psi Chi members set up collection boxes in various academic departments, dining commons, residence halls, and the Newman Center, and worked to attract donations of non-food products to give to the Amherst and Northampton survival centers.

The honor society also raised money by selling coffee in Tobin Hall every morning. On the day COMECC pledge cards were due, they gave free coffee to each person who turned in a pledge card.

All four Psi Chi officers attended the breakfast and received a round of applause. The four were: Melanie Bauman, president; Rosemary Lerit and Adela Iturregui, vice presidents; and Amy Roth, treasurer. All are seniors.

Psychology professor Susan Whitbourne was given credit for helping the students become involved with the COMECC campaign.

Chancellor David K. Scott announced that 2,008 employees contributed to this year''s campaign, which means participation is now 39 percent, the highest it has ever been at the University. He added: "We are still accepting pledges as employees may donate throughout the year."

Scott also announced that $315,308 was donated to various organizations, up 27 percent from last year''s total of $248,754. The average donation was $157.93, up from last year''s $140.94.

Both Scott and George N. Parks, Minuteman Marching Band Director and chair of annual COMECC campaigns since 1993, pledged to double and redouble their efforts to increase to 50 percent the 39 percent participation figure.

Scott also noted that University students, faculty, and staff often donate more than money to the agencies served by COMECC. Scott, who chaired this year''s Hampshire Community United Way campaign, said: "As I visited United Way recipient agencies this past year, I found that University people are involved in many ways."

He cited the UMass volunteers who serve as Big Brothers and Big Sisters and who help out in a number of other ways.

He said: "From the beginning I saw this year''s fund drive as a crusade rather than a campaign." The definition of crusade, he said, is a "vigorous movement for a truly great and worthy cause, and COMECC is certainly that."

Scott noted that the University as a whole benefits through the money and time donated. "It builds better relations with the community," he said. "It''s also one way that the University builds credibility with the state and the legislature."

John Sheehan, president of the Hampshire Community United Way campaign and manager of the COMECC Region IV campaign, thanked the crowd "on behalf of the more than 59,000 people in the region helped through donations to United Way."

He said: "UMass has the Number One football team in the country and the Number One band in the country, and is Number One in COMECC and the United Way."

He quoted Emily Dickinson: "If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain."

Peter Helper, biology, was the winner of two airline tickets donated by McGregor Travel for the annual drawing. More than 400 other prizes were donated to participants by campus departments and individuals.