The ninth annual Cal State San Bernardino Coyote Cares Day saw about 350 students, alumni, staff and faculty volunteers participate in helping the community’s underserved and needy, which this year was done over a two-day period, Friday, Feb. 17, and Saturday, Feb. 18.

On the first day, the volunteers, which included CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales and Provost Rafik Mohamed, packed, sealed and boxed dry packages of jambalaya soup mixes, which would be distributed this week to families in need.

“I think it’s great. It’s part of our DNA as a wonderful university community to help others,” said Morales, who was especially pleased by the turnout of about 200 students, faculty, staff and alumni. “I think it’s a great turnout on a Friday afternoon.”

The next day, the packaging of the soup mixes continued but was done primarily by CSUSB alumni, who packed, sealed and boxed the dry soup mix for a two-day total of about 52,000 packages of soup, said Diane Podolske, director of the university’s Office of Community Engagement.

This year the university partnered with U.S. Hunger, a Florida-based nonprofit organization committed to providing healthy meals to those in need, said Podolske. The boxes of the packaged soup mix would be delivered to Touching Ministries, a non-denominational, faith-based nonprofit organization, which in turn will distribute them throughout the community this week, she added.

Saturday morning also saw the traditional volunteer efforts as about 100 students and alumni were shuttled to locations throughout the community to help, including volunteering at a domestic violence shelter, a food bank warehouse, two area community centers and another warehouse where they sorted out holiday toys for children.

Coyote Cares Day is a day where the entire campus community can play a part in giving back and serving others, said Cam Fowler, community partnerships analyst in the Office of Community Engagement, who added that the entire campus is welcomed and encouraged to volunteer.

Pre-pandemic, campus members contributed over 100,000 hours of volunteer service in local communities annually. While that number was affected recently by restrictions created by COVID-19 and the need to move temporarily to virtual volunteer opportunities, the university’s commitment to supporting the local community remains strong.