December 1, 2015
As part of #GivingTuesday, volunteers from Cheyney and West Chester universities jointly participated in activities that support local organizations and charitable causes.
The initiative is the vision of Cheyney student Leonard Brown, who started the Good Neighbors program there. He reached out to the WCU Office of Service Learning and Volunteer Programs, and connected with student Sarah E. Walker.
Says Brown, "Good Neighbors is a student-led initiative to establish a sustainable local ecosystem of collaboration, accountability, support and development in the communities we live and work in using service as the stimulus. Our vision is to foster a strong relationship with the local community and be recognized as valued contributors."
In the morning, the students served in the West Chester area at Chester County Food Bank, Hickman Senior Community, YMCA Oskar Lasko Center, Chester County Hospital, Friends Association, Charles A Melton Arts & Education Center, Planned Parenthood of West Chester, Barclay Friends, Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. They read to youth and seniors, prepared meals, caroled, and helped set up displays. In the afternoon, students from both institutions returned to WCU for lunch, reflection and one final service project: building Caps Kits for youth (a project of WCU education professor Donna Sanderson). Giant sponsored morning refreshments and MaC Distribution donated shirts for volunteers.
The effort is "unique in that it began as just one student's idea, and spread to a collaboration among students of different universities, supported by our faculty, administration and community sponsors," notes WCU's Walker. "This project not only fully embodies the spirit of #GivingTuesday, but also the lifestyle that students at universities nationwide should seek to embrace."
West Chester fittingly hosts the first college chapter of Bringing Hope Home (BHH), founded by WCU alumnus Paul Isenberg '87 in honor and memory of his late wife, Nicole, also a WCU graduate, who passed away from Stage IV Hodgkins Lymphoma. The nonprofit assists families in which someone has cancer. Their goal is to provide "unexpected amazingness."
At holiday time, BHH WCU Chapter turns its attention to Adopt-a-Family, which allows supporters to focus on the needs of several families as they cope with cancer diagnoses and treatments. Volunteers raise money to pay their adopted family's household bills or provide gifts and gift cards to their family.
The BHH WCU Chapter teamed with Dunkin' Donuts Community Cruiser to hand out free coffee samples in the Lawrence parking lot while collecting donations to support the BHH Adopt-a-Family program.
BHH named the WCU Chapter its School of the Year for its fundraising activities, which have inspired students at Drexel and Robert Morris (Pittsburgh, Pa.) universities to start chapters.
Following its holiday tradition, Goshen Hall hosted a "giving tree" for the benefit of children at Kindred House, Gaudenzia's therapeutic/residential community serving pregnant and parenting women substance abusers and their children.
Children from Kindred's 20 families will enjoy food, games, music and activities at Goshen on Wednesday, Dec. 2, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., when more than 50 WCU students spread holiday cheer – and the 600 gifts they were able to purchase from donations to the giving tree.
Resident director Justin Brown is coordinating volunteers in last-minute gift wrapping, decorating Goshen, and making sure Santa and Mrs. Claus are there.
Check in with the WCU Office of Service Learning and Volunteer Programs for ongoing volunteer opportunities.