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Holidays are ‘a great time to give back’

Follow the fun as Lehigh University Police Department officers take local children holiday shopping during this year's Shop with a Cop outing.

Members of the men's golf team with local families at this year's C.O.A.C.H. Adopt-a-Family event.

The holiday season frequently spurs the need to give, and the Lehigh community is no exception. Across the campus, a number of charitable programs and events raised funds to benefit the local community.

Some—such as the highly successful C.O.A.C.H. program and the Lehigh University Police Department’s innovative Shop with a Cop program – are perennial favorites. Others are new to campus this year, and were developed in response to growing needs on the part of families struggling in a weakened economy, organizers say.

This year’s C.O.A.C.H. Adopt-a-Family event was held on Dec. 8 at the Donegan Elementary School, and raised more than $29,000 to benefit local families. This year’s event—the 12th annual—combined the efforts of the Greek community along with departments throughout the university, according to Roseann Corsi, who coordinates the athletics department’s community relations efforts. Nearly 900 members of the local and Lehigh community attended the event.

The Shop with a Cop program was held on Saturday, Dec. 11, at a local Wal-Mart store. There, 15 LUPD officers escorted 24 children from 12 local families on a shopping spree. It followed a Breakfast with Santa at Rathbone Hall, and was the most successful event in the tradition’s eight-year history.

(To see highlights of this year's Shop with a Cop outing, watch the accompanying video.)

New this year was a Dec. 9 concert featuring the rock band Willet, which was organized by Community Fellow Angela Marcucci, to benefit New Bethany Ministries. The “Willet Snow for Christmas” event was held in Lamberton Hall, and raised nearly $2,000 for the local charity, as well as awareness of the band’s support for the organization, Food for the Hungry.

“We are so thankful to have received support and participation from a variety of campus and local institutions,” says Marcucci, who worked with offices off and on-campus, including Auxiliary and Dining Services, Greek organizations and local churches.

Among the other ways the Lehigh family gave back to the community were:

  • Individuals in the College of Education organized a successful “adopt-a-family” event to provide presents for 22 children from seven local families, and to collect school supplies for Broughal students, who can redeem coupons for these items in the school store.

  • Debra Field, a professor of practice in the music department, devoted her efforts to encouraging fellow fiber crafters to make knitted and crocheted scarves, which are donated to New Bethany Ministries to support programs for the homeless and needy families. “The needs of New Bethany are many, but we felt that members of the Lehigh community can help in one small way by making a warm scarf for a man, woman or child,” says Field, who set a goal this year of collecting more than 100 scarves by mid-December. This is the sixth year of the program that produces hats or scarves for those served through New Bethany.

  • Two students—Eddie Brack ’12 and Monique Golden '13—organized a book and educational toy drive early, by working in partnership with the Women’s Center and the Nurse/Family Partnership of the Lehigh Valley. Their efforts, which raised nearly $500 to purchase toys and books for clients of the NFP, was so successful that it will likely be repeated every fall, Women’s Center director Rita Jones says.

  • In November, the Office of International Students and Scholars held the second annual winter clothing drive, which netted much-needed cold-weather clothing for international students. “We had a donation drive for kitchen items for our international students earlier in the semester, and the university community responded very enthusiastically,” says Jeanne Ma, an advisor for international students. “The program is so important for students who came here from warmer climates and who really need winter clothing. We’re so glad we could continue it.”

  • The perennially popular Holiday Hope Chest program was once again organized through the Community Service Office, with more than 100 gift boxes filled for local schoolchildren participating in the Homework Clubs. The event, which is coordinated with the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley, provides gift boxes geared to the specific ages and needs of the children. “It’s an amazing feeling to know that we work on a campus that is so compassionate and so generous,” says Community Service Director Carolina Hernandez, who lauded the compassionate spirit of the Lehigh community. “The children in our Homework Clubs were beyond excited to receive their gift boxes, and I think the staff, faculty and students who put them together had just as much fun. It’s a great time of year on campus, and a great time to give back.”

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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