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Holiday spirit trumps seasonal stress

Ellen Ryder, an education student and a graduate assistant in the office of community service, helps fill the office’s annual Holiday Hope Chest.

The last few weeks of the fall semester are frequently characterized by long hours of studying for finals, and making holiday preparations. Nonetheless, students, faculty and staff take time to give back to the community.

The Lehigh University Police Department recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of its popular Shop with a Cop event. After eating breakfast with Santa Claus in Rathbone, local children and their parents boarded a bus for Walmart, shopped for nearly three hours with an LUPD officer or volunteer, wrapped presents, returned to Lehigh, and picked up food baskets filled with fixings for a turkey dinner.

“It’s one of the best days of the year for us,” said LUPD Police Chief Ed Shupp. “It seems to get better with each year. We’ve probably provided more than $70,000 to help local families over the years, and we can see how much the kids enjoy it and the families appreciate it. And I think our officers look forward to it even more than they do sometimes.”

Across campus, the spirit of holiday giving manifested itself in other projects undertaken by staff, faculty and students.

Taking the chill out of the season

In early November, the office of international students and scholars opened the doors of the Dialogue Center to collect winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves for international students who came to Lehigh from warmer climates.

“The project went really well,” said Jeanne Tan Ma, assistant director of OISS. “Faculty and staff responded to our call with great enthusiasm. We had approximately 50 students and scholars stop by and pick up items.”

The Student Athletes Leading Social Change (SALSC) held their annual Letters from Santa fundraiser. For a small fee, members of the group composed and sent personalized letters to children around the world. The money they raised will help fund a trip next summer to New Orleans, where the students will help build schools. This year’s fundraising effort more than doubled last year’s, said SALSC co-captain and softball player Liz Lucas ’13.

“We’re sending out about 100 letters this week to children all over the world,” said Lucas. “Our whole group got together and wrote them all out and we had a lot of fun with it.”

Hope for the holidays

During the community service office’s annual Holiday Hope Chest project, members of the Lehigh community filled 75 shoeboxes with gifts for local children in the office’s afterschool homework clubs. The office also coordinated a two-day blood drive, a bowling trip for Broughal Middle School students, and a party for children at the South Side Library.

Students in the C.O.A.C.H. (Community Outreach by Athletes who Care about Helping) program held three “shifts” at Donegan Elementary School, enabling offices on campus to join athletic teams, fraternities and sororities in “adopting” nearly 60 local families. Dinner was shared with, and gifts given to, 161 children.

“It was amazing,”said Roseann Corsi, public relations coordinator for athletics. “This is always the most rewarding for us since we all want to give back.”

 

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Thursday, December 13, 2012

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