A Jumbo Helping Hand

The Tufts Community Appeal, which runs through December, is a way for faculty and staff to contribute to many worthy causes

Building a sense of community takes creativity, a can-do attitude, and money.

Bill Hager, executive director of the West Medford Community Center, knows that equation well. He thrives on crafting new programming for the nonprofit center that serves Medford and neighboring communities, including Somerville.  He can count on the center’s many volunteers and supporters, but without dollars, his work is an uphill struggle. That’s why Hager is thrilled to receive grants from the Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund, one of three giving options in the Tufts Community Appeal, which is seeking support from faculty and staff through December 31. 

Two years ago, the fund supported the African-American Remembrance Project, a visual chronicle of the West Medford’s richly layered past, which is now on permanent display at the center. Last year, funds supported another new idea at the center—a special program called First Friday. The informal, upbeat social gathering blends open discussion around timely issues with live music.  

“The Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund is flexible enough to allow us to think creatively about ideas that build strong communities,” said Hager, “and I can’t think of anything more important right now. The Neighborhood Service Fund allows us to do the kind of innovative programming that brings people together.”  

Hager is not alone in his gratitude. The West Medford Community Center is one of 30 local nonprofits to benefit last year from the Tufts Community Appeal; each received a share of the $20,000 contributed to the fund through the annual fund drive. The funds in the past have had wide impact, strengthening, for instance, a cancer prevention awareness program for Boston’s Chinese community and transportation for residents in Central Massachusetts to attend nutrition programs.

Last year, 564 faculty and staff made gifts through TCA totaling more than $280,000. This year, Tufts is aiming for a new record of at least 600 participants. It’s not a tall order for Todd Quinto, Robinson Professor of Mathematics, a new co-chair of the campaign’s ten-member board, and who has done his part by making contributions to TCA for more than a decade.

“This is more than just a job to me,” said Quinto, who came to Tufts in 1977 as a part-time lecturer and went to build a 40-year career at the university. Stepping up to the Tufts Community Appeal challenge, he said, is a chance to support a university that has enriched his life and those of his students.

“When I give to the TCA, I feel satisfied knowing all of my support is going to a cause that is important to me,” he said, “and I would tell others: participate!  You’ll help a good cause!”

In the past, Quinto contributed to a charity of his choice.  He now donates to The Tufts Neighborhood Fund to support local communities and to Tufts financial aid “to help our wonderful students,” he said. “Many students would thrive at Tufts, but don’t have the money to afford it. If we can help support them, we should.”

Generosity of spirit, in fact, is characteristic of Quinto. For 28 years, he has volunteered one night a week at Boston Children’s Hospital. He finds joy in his interactions with children, from sharing card games, joke books, and toys. His warmth and kindness are appreciated; he received the hospital’s Distinguished Service Award in 2003.

“The Tufts Community Appeal is an opportunity to do something as a community, and in a way we can all be proud of,” Quinto said. “I like to give as part of a community, because together we have a bigger impact than any one of us could have alone.”

This year, the Tufts Community Appeal is once again offering three ways for faculty and staff to support those in need: 

Tufts Financial Aid: Help deserving students attend Tufts based on their academic ability and not their ability to pay. 

The Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund: Support host communities and the important work that is done by Tufts volunteers with community organizations in Medford, Somerville, Grafton, and the Boston neighborhoods of Chinatown, the Fenway, and Mission Hill. 

The Charity of Your Choice: Donate to any nonprofit charitable 501(c)(3) organization. Fill out the pledge form and include your check (payroll deduction is not available for charity of your choice). Your donation will be forwarded via certified mail.

It is easier than ever to participate. The giving options have been simplified, and the form can be printed out here [PDF]. Donations to the Neighborhood Service Fund and Tufts financial aid can be made through payroll deduction. Making a gift qualifies people for the Tufts Community Appeal raffle, with weekly drawings for gift cards to the Tufts bookstore. 

For more information, go to the Tufts Community Appeal website, or contact Alanna Fusco at 617-627-3780 or alanna.fusco@tufts.edu.

Laura Ferguson can be reached at laura.ferguson@tufts.edu.

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