Sacred Heart University students, staff and faculty don’t hold back their generosity. Most are committed to service and helping out the less fortunate all year ’round, but the kindness and graciousness truly shows around the holiday season.
In the weeks prior to Thanksgiving last year, the SHU community collected hundreds of non-perishable goods for a food drive conducted by the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning, in collaboration with Campus Ministry. At the same time, the Student Government collected enough donations from students, staff and faculty to provide 375 turkeys to St. Charles Borromeo Church, Golden Hill United Methodist Church and Alpha Community Services in Bridgeport. This collection of food items and turkeys meant families were able to celebrate the holiday with a delicious meal.
Sacred Heart’s lacrosse team joined students from the volunteer programs office and Student Life, and staff with Residential Life, to distribute the goods. While people waited in line St. Charles Borromeo Church for their Thanksgiving food, Chartwells (SHU’s food service provider) provided hot chocolate and cookies.
“I think for our community, what seems like a small thing, like collecting canned goods, really makes a huge difference for one day or week for our neighbors,” said Andrea Canuel, assistant director at the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning.
Shortly after the Thanksgiving drive, the SHU community began its Adopt-A-Family program. Sixty-one families were “adopted” by departments, clubs, student groups and anyone else who wanted to help. Families ranging from one or two people to 14 provided wish lists consisting of clothing items and/or toys. The SHU volunteers fulfilled their requests by purchasing the items and festively wrapping them.
A week before Christmas, students boxed up the wrapped gifts, along with more donated, non-perishable goods, and put them on a truck to deliver to St. Charles Borromeo parish and Golden Hill United Methodist Church.
Food is necessary at this time of year, Canuel said. Children typically get two meals a day at school, but with no school during winter break, food donations ensure they will have something to eat, she said.
“The disparity in resources becomes much more apparent this time of year,” she noted.
Canuel said it’s important that SHU students know their positive holiday experience isn’t the same for everyone. It’s also important for children in need to experience the holiday spirit and generosity, she said.
To get involved or learn more about service opportunities at SHU, visit http://www.sacredheart.edu/faithservice/volunteerprogramsservicelearning/