Megan MacLeod, a fourth-year honours health studies and gerontology student, has just finished her third annual Warm Up for Winter clothing drive. The campaign, which she started herself in her second year at Mac, collects and distributes winter clothing for children and adults.

MacLeod was inspired to start this initiative after volunteering and working at the Norman Pinky Lewis Recreation Centre in North Hamilton.

“I saw a need in the community for warm winter clothing,” she said.

“Children were coming to the after school program with inadequate winter clothing … [and] I definitely felt that I could do something to fill that need.”

She certainly did her best. As of the distribution on Oct. 19, she had collected 6000 items, far more than the 3000 last year and 1000 in the program’s first year.

The clothing was stored at MacLeod’s family home in Caistorville, a small town of about 100 people, where a team of her friends and family sorted and packed the thousands of items to be transported to the Hamilton community centre.

And because of her promotional efforts, only 200 items were left over at the end of the day. The network of community organizations and school principals helped bring a record crowd to her distribution day.

The reaction from those people who picked up the clothing was also positive.

“Some people shy away from reactions like [hugging],” she said. “But a lot of people were very appreciative of it, even if they didn’t … say it, you could tell … a burden was just released from them just because they didn’t have to put out hundreds of dollars to clothes.”

MacLeod’s community involvement is not limited to Warm Up for Winter. In fact, this is the third clothing drive she’s organized. The first was a shoe drive for people living in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, for which she sent 4000 pairs of shoes to help with earthquake relief.

She also organized Glitz, Glamour, and Graduation, an initiative that provided grade 8 girls with dresses and beauty services for their graduation ceremonies.

All of her campaigns were clothing drives, but she didn’t plan that.

“I didn’t think about any of them,” she explained. “They were all spur of the moment, and because there was a need.”

She plans to continue this kind of community service in future, and not just with Warm Up for Winter.

After completing her health studies program, as well as a certificate in not-for-profit business offered through the new Social Sciences collaboration with Mohawk College, MacLeod hopes to pursue a Master’s at McMaster and eventually work for an NGO.

“A dream job would be to take what I’m doing right now and turn it into a career … something along those lines, giving back to the community. I would love to eventually do that.”

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