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Campus Community Has Many Ways to Show ‘Generosity and Kindness’ This Holiday Season
This holiday season, Syracuse University’s voluntary Holiday Sharing Program will provide a variety of ways for members of the campus community to help local families in need. Participation opportunities are available with PEACE, Inc., Vera House and The Salvation Army.
“We are pleased to offer several options for our campus community to show its generosity and kindness this holiday season,” says Cydney Johnson, vice president for community engagement and government relations. “Holiday Sharing is the best way to bring our community together to make an impact on people who are struggling or experiencing a challenging time, particularly with the ongoing pandemic.”
Whether it’s a specific item from a wish list, a basket of household supplies and personal items, or a monetary donation, your gift will mean everything to people and families in our greater Syracuse community.
“The holidays should be something that are warm and exciting, and it’s easy to forget that sometimes they’re more stressful to some people because of family relations, or money, or something else,” says Lucy Totino, PEACE Inc. grants coordinator and holiday program organizer. “So, I hope this program lifts that weight off some people and makes them a little more lighthearted throughout the holiday season.”
Virgie Townsend, director of marketing and communications at Vera House, recalled a teenager who was at the shelter with their family during the holidays last year. The teen amazed the shelter staff with their selflessness and love for their family, and the staff wanted the teen and their family to have a special Christmas.
“Thanks to our generous donors, we were able to buy the teenager their own small flat screen TV and gift card, as well as presents for their parent and siblings,” Townsend says. “The teen cried tears of joy when they saw the gifts, and the presents allowed them to keep in touch with the friends they had to leave behind when the family moved to safety.”
Here are the ways you, your department, or your school or college can help a family in need this holiday season:
About PEACE Inc.: People’s Equal Action and Community Effort Inc., is a nonprofit, community-based organization with the mission of helping people in the community realize their potential for becoming self-sufficient.
Give-A-Holiday program: Participants can choose to give gifts to a family or families, and you’ll receive a family wish list that includes the first name, gender, age and sizes of each family member along with gift suggestions. You can also give a gift basket, a collection of items or a monetary donation.
Pick-up location: For Syracuse University employees–not the public–PEACE Inc., will pick up gift-wrapped items for family members and gift baskets from 9 to 10:15 a.m. and 1:15-2:15 p.m. Dec. 13, and 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Dec. 14 at Gate D of the stadium (enter the Quad Lot via South Crouse Drive and proceed to Gate D).
If you’re unable to drop off your items during those times, you can drop them off at PEACE Inc.’s DeFrancisco Eastwood Community Center, 401 S. Midler Ave., Syracuse, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 10 and from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 13.
Spirit of Giving: “Every year, we try to make sure that different families have a chance to participate in this program and receive gifts,” says Arielle Kaigler-Hall, a community engagement associate who works with Totino to create wish lists for the families. “It’s amazing to see how some donors go above and beyond to personalize their gifts or add extra gifts. People are excited to shop and give back!”
About Vera House: Vera House Inc., is a nonprofit organization with the mission to prevent, respond to and partner to end domestic and sexual violence and other forms of abuse.
Holiday Giving Program: Participants have the option (or two) of choosing either the Gift of Choice (a monetary donation for a gift card or certificate), or from the Amazon.com Holiday Wish List. Vera House asks that donations be delivered, mailed or dropped off to Vera House by Dec. 17 to allow enough time for holiday distribution.
Meeting the Needs: “We’ve tailored Vera House’s Holiday Giving Program to the needs of the people we serve,” Townsend says. “The Gift of Choice option is particularly powerful because it allows the people we serve to buy gifts for their unique needs. For example, it’s common for our shelter residents to have left their homes with very few of their belongings. Gift cards allow them to buy the things they had to leave behind when they moved to safety.
“Our Amazon Wish List features items that we always need for the people we serve, like bedding, towels, kitchen supplies and games for children,” Townsend adds.
The Salvation Army Christmas Bureau
About The Salvation Army: The Salvation Army of the Syracuse Area is a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting human needs without discrimination, and to encourage and empower those in need to reach their full potential.
Christmas Bureau: Individuals, groups or departments may donate food and/or toys to the Salvation Army to be distributed during its annual Christmas Bureau event at the Oncenter in downtown Syracuse. For donation ideas, view the bureau’s Toy Wish List [PDF]. The bureau’s food wish list includes canned beans, canned fruit, canned meat, canned vegetables, canned soup, stuffing, macaroni and cheese and tuna (no glass containers, please).
Drop-Off Day: Friday, Dec. 10, at the Oncenter.
Wish List: If you’d like to donate to The Salvation Army and you’re not sure what to purchase, Gina Lazara, public relations and special events manager, says “This year we will really need toys because there might be a shortage.”