Newman University Director of Security Morris "Mo" Floyd noticed something during his normal rounds in the spring of 2016 as students were moving out of the residence halls — the trash bins outside of the dorms were filled with things that had many years of life left in them.
He knew those items could be given good homes, so he immediately took action.
"I started it [the collection drive] because I saw all the waste in the dumpsters," he said. "It broke my heart because I knew there were people out there that could benefit."
Floyd spent much of his working life as an officer in the Wichita Police Department (WPD). His time in that career introduced him to the reality of the Wichita area homeless population. His idea was simple — have the students donate those items instead of throwing them out.
After contacting someone at the organization His Helping Hands to see if they could use these types of items, he reached out to Campus Ministry for some extra help. Together, Floyd, University Chaplain Fr. John Fogliasso and Administrative Assistant Monica Borger took what little time they had left before the students were completely moved out, and began spreading the word to leave their items with the security office.
"Last year, we didn't have as much time, so we didn't collect as many items," said Floyd. "But for 2017, we were much more prepared."
Collection bins were placed in the lobbies of each residence hall and flyers were placed around campus. The result for the 2017 collection drive was more than 300 items donated to the cause.
Floyd and Fogliasso have been busy ever since, going through the items in their spare time and packaging them up by category to deliver to His Helping Hands.
Floyd said, "They [His Helping Hands] work with the Wichita Police Homeless Outreach Team, and they help in establishing apartments for homeless people that want to get off the streets and get going again. The donated items are given away — they’re not sold."
Fogliasso saw the collection drive as a win-win situation. Not only is the local homeless population benefiting, he said, but "it's helpful for the students so that they don’t have to pack as much."
He added that they wanted the collection drive to be part of the moving out process. "As students are preparing to move to a new school, or prepare for summer break, we wanted them to have the option of donating their items."
Items such as lamps, TV’s, pots and pans, shoes, an Xbox, and clothing, some of which still had the tags on them, were all donated to the drive.
"Our students are very generous with their donations," said Fogliasso.
The collection drive will become an annual event, according to Floyd. He values the idea of collecting these items for the organizations that help the homeless.
"I’ve been out of the force for two years — but up until that time — I saw it [the Wichita Police Homeless Outreach Team] address some very serious issues, and we were having fewer homeless people die from exposure in the wintertime. We were getting more people job help and getting them on their feet, to be productive people in society as opposed to people who were wandering aimlessly getting in trouble."
Floyd said he is appreciative of the help that Campus Ministry has provided as a partner in the collection drive, but also the staff in Residence Life, who helped by providing a vacant dorm room in which to store and organize the hundreds of donations.
As for the students who generously donated their lightly used and new items, Floyd said, "I'd like to thank all the students and anybody else who contributed. It’s one of those things that — just some morning you’re going to feel really good, and you don’t know why — that’s because something you donated just helped someone out there."