UA 4 Food brings in more than 3,000 pounds of donations

stuff the cat tran volunteers wear protective glasses as they look at the sky to see the solar eclipse

While collecting donations at the Stuff the Cat Tran event on April 8, volunteers took a break to observe the solar eclipse.

On April 8, as the moon was making its way between the sun and Earth, volunteers were stuffing a 40-foot Cat Tran shuttle parked in front of Old Main with thousands of pounds of donations. The Stuff the Cat Tran event – which did pause long enough to allow volunteers to observe the solar eclipse – was the culmination of the UA 4 Food drive and another year of UA Cares initiatives.

The drive, which ran March 11-April 8, netted 3,214 pounds of food and hygiene product donations, which were evenly divided between the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and the University's Campus Pantry, which provides food staples and hygiene products at no cost to students, faculty and staff.

Nick Hilton, director in the Office of Government and Community Relations and coordinator of UA Cares, said he is grateful that, even in a challenging financial time, members of the University community were willing to support UA Cares initiatives throughout the academic year.

Nick Hilton, director in the Office of Government and Community Relations

Nick Hilton, director in the Office of Government and Community Relations

"It's all attributed to the Wildcat spirit where people really do Bear Down and step up for each other," Hilton said. "And we're helping much more than just campus causes."

The UA Cares workplace giving campaign, which ran Oct. 2-Nov. 10, brought in $191,000 in monetary donations from payroll deductions, department and unit fundraisers, and one-time donations. The money went to 201 causes, including 117 University programs and 69 community nonprofits. A new option this year allows employees to enroll in payroll deductions outside of the giving campaign date range, which pushes the total donations over $202,000, Hilton said.

Among the programs donors could support was the Employee Emergency Fund, which is available to employees who are experiencing financial emergencies. This year, the fund helped 32 people recover from financial emergencies and gave out $23,567, Hilton said.

The campaign also saw a 75% increase in the number of employees who volunteered their time, including 131 faculty and staff members volunteering for seven United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona service projects reserved for University employees.

The slate of UA Cares events also includes blood drives each semester. The blood drives during the 2023-24 academic year brought in enough blood to help 576 patients at Tucson-area hospitals, Hilton said.

Credit for this year's success, Hilton said, goes in part to the two honorary UA Cares co-chairs: Hope Noriega, enrollment counselor with Arizona International, and Brian Mayer, professor in the School of Sociology.

"We were incredibly happy to have two chairs for the first time this year," Hilton said. "They brought a lot of energy to our campaign and really helped inspire people to give back based on their examples of giving back."

Hilton also credited the work of UA Cares ambassadors – employees from units throughout campus who volunteer to help coordinate and promote UA Cares events.

"The ambassadors are really the heart of every one of our UA Cares initiatives," Hilton said. "We rely on their feedback on how we can continue improving the campaign. I think that's why we're continuing to see it grow in terms of number of initiatives and the impact that we're having."

Instead of a celebration to mark the end of the UA Cares campaign, ambassadors and other employees are being invited to participate in a Habitat For Humanity build on June 25.

Those interested in becoming UA Cares ambassadors, or who want to suggest names for next year's co-chairs, can email Hilton at

Resources for the Media