Students see Valentine’s Day as opportunity for community service
Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 03:02
This Friday, many couples will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with candlelit dinners, evenings in the city and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Tufts students, however, are proving that there are many other ways to celebrate the holiday of love.
“A lot of people think Valentine’s Day is a hallmark holiday,” junior Christina Moore said. “The holiday can make you feel guilty if you’re not in a relationship and guilty if you are and don’t spend a lot of money. But Valentine’s Day is a lot more than that. It’s about celebrating love for everyone.”
This year, Moore is celebrating “Galentine’s Day,” a holiday that originated on the popular television series “Parks and Recreation” (2009-present). The holiday is a spoof on Valentine’s Day, in which the show’s protagonist Leslie Knope celebrates the love she feels for her female friends and relatives.
Moore celebrated the holiday last year with one of her best friends, but this year she plans to extend the festivities to all of her housemates.
“Everyone in the house is each other’s Valentines,” Moore said.
Moore remarked on how this celebration will not only be different in practice, but in meaning.
“... It’s more of a time to hang out and have girl time,” Moore said. “It’s a holiday about girl empowerment, but also it expands Valentine’s Day so that it’s more of a day to say, ‘I love you’ to all the people who are important in your life, not just [to] one special someone. It’s also a time to give sappy and fun gifts.”
Lauren Jacobs, a freshman, said she is taking the opportunity this Feb. 14 to expand her community outreach with a program called Best Buddies.
“[Best Buddies is an] international, nonprofit organization that promotes one-on-one friendships between those with [mental or physical] disabilities [and] those without disabilities,” she said.
She said she will work with these handicapped individuals to make Valentine’s Day cards and is excited and optimistic about the day’s events.
“In short, [Best Buddies is] a club about having fun with all types of people,” Jacobs said. “Because the purpose is to have fun and foster friendship, this Valentine’s Day we will be making ... cards for friends and family, as well as doing fun arts and crafts things, like [making] pom-pom and paper heart penguins. Really, it’s not what we’re making, but the conversation and fun that comes out of doing the crafts together.”
Although volunteering is not the most typical Valentine’s Day activity, Jacobs said she looks forward to her Friday plans.
“I was in Best Buddies in high school and we would always do a Valentine related event, so I’m glad I can continue the tradition,” Jacobs said. “Valentine’s Day to me is a day of love for everyone rather than just a ‘special’ someone. There are some amazing people in Best Buddies and they make every event a wonderful time.”
The Best Buddies event will be hosted at Outside the Lines Studio, an art studio for individuals with disabilities, located across from the Gantcher Center. Open to anyone, the event will run from 12 to 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14. Later in the evening, there will be another free event, featuring work by local artists and select pieces from the Best Buddies program, from 6 to 9 p.m.
“When you enter both events it will be really chill,” Jacobs said. “There will be templates for cards, various art supplies and a bunch of people just sitting around having a good time.”
The swimming and sailing co-ed fraternity Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) is also doing Valentine’s Day a little differently. Tonight, ATO will host a party for all Tufts students called “Get Your Heart On” to raise money for a local non-profit.
“A Valentine’s Day party is something that we haven’t done in quite a few years, but in the past it’s been a tradition for ATO to hold [one],” Pierre DuPont, a sophomore and the social chair of ATO, said.
ATO will fundraise by selling chocolate chip cookies to guests at the party, at $1 for one cookie or $2 for three. All of the proceeds from the party will go to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), which provides counseling and other services to victims of rape. Having expanded substantially from its origins as a call center, BARCC is the only rape crisis center in the greater Boston area.
“The more people donate, the better services they can offer to those in need,” DuPont said. “Rape is a problem that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, especially among college students. Supporting BARCC is something we’ve done for a while now and [something] we plan on doing for a long time. In the past, we’ve volunteered at events hosted by them, participated in the BARCC Walk for Change [fundraiser] and more.”
Similar to ATO’s efforts to raise awareness for victims of rape, “The Vagina Monologues,” a play written by Eve Ensler that focuses on female empowerment, returns to Tufts this weekend on Feb. 14 and 15. Proceeds from ticket purchases will go to Rosie’s Place, a Boston non-profit organization that aims to provide “a sanctuary to poor and homeless women,” according to its website.
With community service efforts from Best Buddies, ATO and “The Vagina Monologues,” Tufts students are certainly exploring the different ways to spread the love on Valentine’s Day.