Red Mitten project helps more than a dozen Oxford families

Volunteers look at collected gifts being taken from a minivan

On the last day of finals, a small convoy of vehicles piled high with wrapped gifts wound their way through a chilly Oxford afternoon to make a special delivery at Kramer Elementary School. The gift delivery was the last step in this year’s Red Mitten Project.

The project, started by Megan Gerhardt, Terri Barr, and the FSB Business Student Advisory Council 10 years ago, is an effort to help students and staff remember the importance of giving back to those in need. Beginning in mid-November, red mittens cover the windows of the Student Services office at the Farmer School. Passers-by take a mitten or mittens, purchase the gifts listed on each mitten, then bring the gifts to Student Services by the beginning of December.

Creating the red mittens for the windows of 1022 is the hardest part of the project! Luckily, I had a lot of help writing and cutting the mittens out,” junior marketing and entrepreneurship major Natalie Brinkman recalled. “I estimate that cutting the paper mittens took about 4 hours.”

I think the fact that we do this teaches them that no matter what type of student you are or background you have, it's important to always think of others, service to others and giving back,” FSB Director of Student Organizations & Diversity Michelle Thomas said. “We hope that this plants a seed for our students to think about as they embark on their careers, the sense that they've done something to give back when they were students here, and that philosophy of giving continues throughout their lives.”

Members of BSAC then wrap the gifts and organize them before they are taken to Kramer to be distributed. “The winter season is always so busy for students, faculty, and staff. We're finishing classes and preparing for trips to see family and friends. The Red Mitten program is so great because it enables participants to take a minute to reflect on the privileges they have and that so many do not have,” Brinkman said. “Picking out and buying gifts for others is a great way to consider the needs of a community at large and it is a great stress-reliever before finals! Overall, the Red Mitten Campaign is a wonderful way to bring together a community while spreading holiday cheer. 

This year, 15 families received more than 150 wishlist gifts through the program. “I think it's awesome that they're willing to give back to the community that they're a temporary part of. Being a student at Miami, but really serving the community of Oxford,” Kramer guidance counselor Elizabeth Jutte said.

The nice thing about the program is they take names, not just of our kids here, but any siblings at home, whether they are at the middle school, the high school, or even younger,” Jutte noted. “So even if they are not in our school system yet, it gives them a Christmas. It means everything.”

Check out more photos from this year's project on our Facebook page