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MBA students share effort

UCI students compete among other business schools to see who can volunteer the most hours around their communities.

April 09, 2008|By Alan Blank

Usually when you think of MBA students it’s easy to imagine they only care about chasing the almighty dollar.

But on a recent afternoon, the UCI Paul Merage School of Business students were working hard at local charity Share Our Selves in Costa Mesa — for free. Still, money wasn’t far from their minds.

They were participating in the Challenge for Charity, which pits the West Coast’s top business schools against each other to see who can raise the most money and volunteer the most hours serving their communities.

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In a little more than a week, UCI will tally up its hours, count up its money and send its delegation to Stanford to win the coveted Golden Briefcase. To achieve their goal the UCI students will have to beat out the likes of Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA and USC.

UCI is a big underdog, though. University of Washington has won the competition seven of the past eight years.

“They have a really good relationship with Microsoft so they’re able to raise a lot of money,” said Briana Ackerman, co-president of UCI’s chapter. “They have an unfair advantage. They’re a smaller school, and the money is counted on a per capita basis.”

Still, the Anteaters are going to give it the old college try Saturday when they have their annual fundraising gala and auction at the Emerald Bay Ballroom in the Student Center. The evening will include dinner, wine tasting, musical entertainment and a cocktail reception.

Throughout the year MBA students have been working shifts at Share Our Selves in Costa Mesa, a facility that offers everything from food, to health care, to money for the poor.

In the stock room, Kendra Hammer and Ashish Gupta filled bags with food to distribute to a crowd of waiting people Friday.

The donated goods aren’t the Wonder Bread and canned corn usually found at food drives. Gallon jugs of Odwalla juice, fresh mangoes and pineapples, and packages of gourmet pastries are distributed at the front counter.

“It’s not your typical day-old bread,” said Karen Harrington, director of development for Share Our Selves. “We have very high-quality pantry items from Mothers and Trader Joe’s.”

While the volunteers filled bags, about 50 people sat in a lobby reminiscent of a DMV waiting room until their numbers were called. Sometimes, when a particularly delectable item was placed on the counter there would be a mad dash to pick it up.

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