|'Tis the season of giving at Centre
RELEASED: Dec. 11, 2003
DANVILLE, KYAround this time every year, most college students are studying for finals, writing papers, shopping for family and friends and attending holiday parties. Centre College students have also found the time to help others.
This holiday season, Centre students, faculty and staff reached out in a variety of ways. The Centre community sponsored 50 Angels for the Angel Tree Project (purchasing gifts that go to underprivileged children), rang the Salvation Army Bell for 70 hours, purchased gifts and made ornaments for 90 nursing home residents, held a Thanksgiving Party for children in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, created gingerbread houses for auction to benefit the Hope Center in Lexington, Ky., and winterized senior citizens homes. In addition, an entire week was dedicated to service projects benefiting the homeless during Hunger and Homelessness Week (http://www.centre.edu/web/news/homeless03.html).
"I don't think people realize what Centre College students do," said Liz Cook, advisory board chair for the local Salvation Army. "They rang the bell, they adopted 50 Angels and they're helping with the distribution. They understand why [service] is important."
In addition to these seasonal projects, students continued to volunteer their time at the Humane Society, the Adult Literacy Center, Woodlawn Children's Home, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and wrote nearly 1,200 letters to family and friends asking for donations to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
"It's the busiest time of the year for these students with finals, papers and projects, and they still manage to take the time to do this," said Trina McFarland, director of service and leadership development at Centre. "These are holiday-specific events and the students volunteer with many other activities throughout the year. Their work this year is just the tip of the iceberg."
Members of several campus organizations rang the Salvation Army bell this month outside of Wal-Mart in Danville, collecting approximately $3,000-$3,500 in donations for meals and gifts for families during the holidays.
"The Salvation Army bell-ringing isn't just about raising money," said Rebecca Bush, a sophomore English major from Brooksville, Ky. "It's about helping people realize that in the midst of their busy lives, there's a deeper and more profound meaning. The holidays can become so hectic that people lose their spirit of sharing. So if donating a handful of change in passing reminds people to think beyond themselves and helps a family in need, then the bell-ringing has served its purpose."
The students are also instilling the idea of service into the people they help. This year the Delta Delta Delta sorority sponsored a Thanksgiving party for the children in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. While at the party, the children made Thanksgiving cards for nursing home residents.
"I couldn't have asked for anything more than the stack of Thanksgiving cards for nursing home residents," McFarland said.
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity has been working this fall to winterize the homes of Danville senior citizens. Fraternity brothers spent more than 100 hours raking leaves, cleaning gutters, washing windows and moving lawn furniture for the homeowners.
"The families of the homes we winterize are always very appreciative, and this project is especially fulfilling because it's more of a one-on-one experience," said Mark Maier, a senior double-major in history and anthropology/sociology from Bowling Green, Ky. "The Winterize Project gives us a chance to meet the people we're helping, which is always repaid."
Volunteers are often rewarded with home-baked cookies and hugs from the homeowners. In addition to repairing houses, the group raised money by soliciting pledges for the number of hours they work. This year they raised $300 from Centre faculty and staff, which they'll donate to a philanthropic organization.
"It's a very rewarding feeling to know that you are doing something not for yourself, but for the benefit of others," Maier said.
McFarland added, "I'm overwhelmed by how generous our students are without giving it a thought. It's just what they do."
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