Tuesday, April 24

Kristina Iliopoulos: ASUCLA should collect change to donate to charity


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When it’s not being used for laundry or as a campaign slogan, change can be absolutely useless.

Getting something in return that you don’t want is a big turn-off for paying with cash, and all that change – other than quarters – tends to just gather dust.

However, UCLA could use this information to make big differences in small ways: Loose change and change from transactions at every restaurant on campus could really add up. And, if implemented correctly, the process could be used to benefit great causes.

UCLA restaurants on campus should take the small step to set up containers at registers where students can donate their extra change to some collective charity.

Everybody loves charity – or at least they should. But not many people know the channels or resources they can utilize to donate regularly, and many people – especially college students – don’t have the resources, the motivation or the time to go out of their way to donate.

Students, for the most part, seem to be completely on board with throwing in their change if they pay in cash. After interviewing multiple students, the overall reaction was best summarized by Danielle Nivinski, a third-year political science student who said, “Yeah, I mean, why not? Unless it’s quarters though, I need that for my laundry.” Donating spare change is an easy, minimal-effort way for students to help out.

Currently, Panda Express already has a change jar that helps support the Children’s Miracle Network, which raises funds and awareness for children’s hospitals. There’s also a centralized location in the A-level of Ackerman where students can toss their change. This may come as a surprise because it’s not very publicized or convenient. When I grab coffee across campus or even lunch on the first floor of Ackerman, there is only a minimal chance that I would remember or go out of my way to donate less than $1. I would rather throw that change in my pocket or bag and go on with my day. Every day, students on campus collect change that they’ll never use – so let’s give them an easy outlet to put all that goodwill to practice.

If as soon as I got my change, I saw there was a jar right next to me offering to take it off my hands, I would dump it in there without a second thought. It would be more effective and convenient to have these “charity jars” right at the place of the transaction – it would raise much more money than a single location in Ackerman that no one can easily find. (I looked everywhere.)

Associated Students UCLA is on board with the general idea of donating change to charity, but could still easily do more. According to Robert Williams, the executive director of ASUCLA, one central location was preferable because the board said it felt the logistics, security and collection of the funds would make this a more viable option.

Of course, multiple change locations would probably be troublesome to those who actually have to collect the change. Having one centralized location is easier to regulate and collect from. But the small extra effort necessary to maintain multiple change locations would be beneficial to the overall cause since it would gather more money. ASUCLA should be willing to take the extra step to collect a significantly larger sum of money. The end goal of a charity jar is, after all, to get more donations for charity.

Change collections are a small thing we can do to make a difference. On a college campus, students are often preoccupied with helping their own futures as opposed to going out of their way to help other people or causes. But that’s not because they don’t want to; their priorities just aren’t in a place where they can put aside the necessary time and energy to make a difference. Change collections would be a convenient and easy method for students to help out, even just a little.

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Kristina Iliopoulos was a columnist from 2015-2017.


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  • zaladbar

    “However, UCLA could use this information to make big differences in small ways: Loose change and change from transactions at every restaurant on campus could really add up”

    Why do you think you can make a big difference in a small way? It seems much more likely that you will make a small, or even negligible difference in a small way.

    Did you ever bother calculating how much change you could reasonably expect to gather using this proposal? I doubt it would add up to more than a years worth of tuition for one person.