Wednesday, February 26

Student spreads holiday cheer, fundraises for camp by decorating doors

Grant Mooney, a second-year individual concentration student, decorates students' doors with Christmas wrapping paper to raise money for Camp Kesem. One of the wrapping paper designs features cups of hot chocolate and winter clothing. (Joe Akira/Daily Bruin)

Grant Mooney replaces blank doors with winter-themed images of penguins sledding to raise money for a summer camp for children whose parents have or have had cancer.

Mooney, a second-year individual concentration student, wraps UCLA students’ doors with holiday wrapping paper for $10 to fundraise for Camp Kesem. Mooney joined the organization as a camp counselor in 2016 after coming across the camp at the UCLA activities fair. Since starting the fundraiser Dec. 3, he has received more than 40 requests and raised nearly $100.

“When I … got in, I realized just how much I love these kids,” Mooney said.“Their joy, their love, their strength, their kindness, their intelligence … all of these qualities come from them being able to be the kids they were meant to be, not having to hide behind any pain or suffering which comes with a close connection to cancer.”

Camp Kesem requires each counselor to raise $500 every year so campers can attend the program for free.

In early December, Mooney advertised the door wrapping fundraiser on the UCLA Facebook Free & For Sale page as well as the generic Facebook Free & For Sale page. Mooney’s friend got the idea to make a profit from wrapping doors after seeing that Mooney’s neighbor wrapped her door, but when he decided not to go through with it, Mooney decided to take it over as a fundraiser. Mooney said he expected a couple requests at most, but he received more than 40 requests within four days.

“I had no idea that it would explode the way it did,” Mooney said. “It was really overwhelming to get pounded with a bunch of different requests.”

Customers message Mooney on Facebook and choose between two holiday wrapping paper designs: a white wrapping paper, which features the word “Joy” and Christmas ornaments, and a sky blue roll, which displays cups of hot chocolate, scarves, mittens, sweaters and beanies.

The most popular roll, which Mooney has since run out of, consists of penguins and snowmen sledding. He also decorates the doors with gold, red and green bows.

Chase Bakkeby, a second-year financial actuarial mathematics student and a friend of Mooney’s, chose the wrapping paper with the hot chocolate as well as a shiny green bow. He had already furnished his dorm room with a little light-up Christmas tree and a Santa hat, but he said the extra decoration didn’t hurt.

“If it was just to get the door wrapped, I wouldn’t do it, but since it’s fundraising for something greater, it was kind of a no-brainer,” Bakkeby said.

Mooney travels to the Hill and student apartments to provide his services. When wrapping doors, he spreads the wrapping paper to the edges of the door and cuts around the perimeter. He then places the wrapping paper over the top of the door, cuts a hole for the handle and secures the paper with painter’s tape. Each door takes about 20 to 30 minutes to wrap, and Mooney wraps about five doors each day.

Si Hua Deng, a second-year Chinese language and culture student, also chose to cover her door with the hot chocolate wrapping paper and split the cost with her roommates. She said she did not know anything about Camp Kesem before seeing Mooney’s post on Facebook but wanted to support the organization and have her door decorated to get into the Christmas spirit.

“My family is very Asian, so we don’t have these decorations,” Deng said. “I like the fact that it stands out from all the boring doors.”

Mooney had scheduled 28 doors between Wednesday and Thursday, but because of the safety concerns involving the Skirball fire, he was unable to wrap them. Mooney said the residents on his floor received a message from their resident assistant asking them to remove anything on their doors to respect the fire code, or the UCLA Housing staff would remove them. Mooney said he will no longer be wrapping doors this holiday season, but is considering wrapping doors year-round based on the seasons.

“People are still very interested,” Mooney said. “I think it just goes back to the cause that people are willing to pay.”

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