Members of the Tropicana Student Organization (TSO) recently chose charity over souvenir T-shirts, opting to donate the group’s $500 budget surplus to the children of Isla Vista Youth Projects (IVYP).

The Nov. 12 donation came from a surplus in TSO funding for the 2003-04 academic year and was the first to come from the student governing organization at Tropicana Gardens Residence Hall. The IVYP runs a local children’s care center that provides after-school programs and day care for Isla Vista residents. LuAnn Miller, executive director of the IVYP, said she found out about the donation a week and a half ago.

“It was one of those nice surprises,” Miller said.

The TSO chose to donate the surplus money rather than buy T-shirts and hats for residents, said public relations chair and second-year art studio major Brandon Teris. He said TSO members felt the money would be better spent on improving the local community.

“We have a strong connection with everyone in I.V. and we just want that relationship to grow,” Teris said.

Kate Rice, IVYP assistant executive director, said the program appreciated the money from students in the community.

“We were very touched that these individuals thought of us because they could have easily spent the money on themselves,” Rice said.

President of TSO and second-year philosophy and psychology major Alden Kiertzner said the IVYP was chosen over several other nonprofit organizations under consideration.

“The Red Cross and other big organizations were brought up, but we decided that giving back to the Isla Vista community would be the best choice,” Kiertzner said.

Rice said the money will help buy supplies for various programs including the children’s center, an after-school program at Isla Vista School and a day care program for infants through kindergarten-aged children. She also said grants to the IVYP are usually used to build upon old programs and develop new ones.

“We get all kinds of different donations and it depends on the time of the year how we will spend them,” Rice said.

Rice said donations like these help maintain the relationship between the IVYP and the Isla Vista and UCSB communities.

“We feel it is an honor because it is important to keep the relationship with our community strong,” Rice said.

Kiertzner and Teris presented the donation to the youth projects at around 11:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 12, and stayed to play with the children for an hour. Rice said the presentation was informal and casual.

“We took pictures and gave them a tour of the center,” Rice said. “The kids also made them a big thank you note with their handprints all over it.”

Though this was the first contribution to the IVYP from TSO, Kiertzner said they try to accommodate various other organizations when asked. He also said he wants to contribute on a more regular basis. Kiertzner said he personally has decided to plan time to volunteer as a tutor at the center.

“It might become an annual thing, whenever there is a surplus in the organization,” Kiertzner said.