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By Stephen Wilson

Lights were hung from the ceiling with care in hopes that someone takes the tags hanging there.

The season of giving kicked off in fun fashion thanks to student leaders in Landis Center for Community Engagement. The annual Holiday Helpers event invites students and staff to select gift tags that will help warm the hearts of Easton community members. 

Maria Ahmed speaks with another student at the Holiday Helpers eventMaria Ahmed ’20, team leader for this event, helped organize the details with Lesley Idrovo ’20, Flor Caceres ’22, Manny Jimenez ’21, Beth Anne Castellano ’22, and Allison Bindler ’21. Mary Foulk, leadership adviser at Landis, stepped in to assist with final stages for the event. 

Together they developed the “Warm Thoughts, Warm Hearts” theme and then strung lights, invited a cappella groups, and transformed Farinon Center into a winter lodge. 

The centerpiece was 337 tags, each providing the name of a child or adult and a modest list of suggested gifts.

No diapers and formula on the tags this year. Instead items include puzzles, clothes, and gift cards, which allow parents to get what they need or buy something more for their children.

All of the items go to three area organizations: St. Luke’s Nurse Family Partnership Program, The Neighborhood Center, and Salvation Army.

“Not everyone is fortunate enough to receive gifts during the holidays,” says Ahmed. “So any capacity we can help we should do it.”

Student decorates cookie at eventThe student team began planning the first week of the semester and engaging local community leaders, faculty, staff, and other students as a way to develop their own civic leadership skills while sharing their passion for purpose-driven work.

“Working at this event helped me foster more relationships with our community members and be more consistent with my communications,” says Ahmed. 

Ross Marcus, executive director from The Neighborhood Center, was on hand, watching as students selected and registered tags, decorated cookies, and made ornaments.

Student colors an ornament“Some families in our community are busy meeting essential needs, so budgeting for the holidays is a luxury,” he says. “If you look at the tags, the items on the lists are not extravagant, so it’s touching to see how humble they are in asking for something to brighten the season.”

“It’s great when young people get involved,” he says. “I am seeing future leaders in the nonprofit world right here. The spirit in this space makes giving feel so natural, which says a lot about the College.”

Students stand at a tree and select tags.Foulk invited staff members who were inspired by the same spirit. “Many had never been to Holiday Helpers before, and it did their hearts good to see students so involved and engaged.”

If you would like a tag, contact Foulk at the Landis Center or Ahmed. All items should be unwrapped, placed in reusable shopping bags, and returned to Landis (Farinon 120) by Nov. 22.


Categorized in: Campus life, Community, Community-Based Learning and Research, Featured News, Landis Center, News and Features, Students
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