James Dickson pulled up to the Grove City Food Pantry in a Campus Safety truck packed with garbage bags full of new and gently-used clothing donations and accompanied by Omicron Xi fraternity brothers.
Food Pantry volunteers rolled out grocery carts to help take the delivery inside, thanking the group as they worked together to unload the vehicle. For the past three years, Dickson, a Grove City College Campus Safety officer, has worked with a different Greek group on the winter clothing drive.
Dickson said he saw a need for donations and volunteers to stay local at Christmas time, so he called the Grove City Food Pantry to see how the campus community could help out. “Lots of people give food to them at this time of year, but I thought if people can’t afford food, then they’re not getting clothes either,” he said.
The winter clothing drive is just one way the College community shares the love of Christ at Christmas time as members volunteer their time and energy to help those in need.
Santa came early this year for 35 children who will receive Christmas gifts through the efforts of the Grove City College community. Patty Priester, conference and event manager at the College, headed up a drive for The Children’s Aid Society of Mercer County, an organization dedicated to support and strengthen children, families and communities. Priester said she hopes this program will continue to grow, so that every child can get what they need at Christmas.
What says Christmas morning like stockings stuffed with gifts? Buhl Library’s annual “Stockings for Soldiers” drive benefits Erie’s Soldiers & Sailors Home and Pittsburgh’s Homeless Veteran’s Shelter. Student workers filled more than 140 stockings provided by Black Funeral Home in Sandy Lake and Stoneboro with personal care items collected at the Library. The Early Education Center also played a part in the stocking stuffing. Preschoolers drew pictures and wrote messages on green and red construction paper and their parents added to the donations. Also in the stockings were 30 hand-made hats contributed by Bon Appetite workers.
Reaching beyond campus, children in the community will receive gifts this Christmas from the staff of Lincoln and Alumni residence halls. Angel Tree Ministry is an outreach program to children with incarcerated parents. As Christmas approaches, the staff of Lincoln and Alumni halls worked together to deliver donated gifts in person to the children, according to Haddon Fox, a resident assistant of Lincoln Hall.
Life Advocates launched the Foster Love Project this month to collect donated clothes, blankets and toiletries items to fill backpacks for foster children. The pro-life organization on campus aims to “give a voice to the voiceless,” Jonathan Skee, president of the club, said.
Athletic teams also worked to spread Christmas cheer, some filling stockings for soldiers or helping with a local Christmas dinner. The Women’s Basketball team sang carols through the halls of Grove Manor, a nursing home near the College.
“I think volunteering to help the elderly is important year-round, but especially during the Christmas season because it can be a very lonely time of the year for them,” Taylor Horn ’20, president of the College’s Adopt-a-Grandparent club said.
As in years past, Christmas sweater-clad students helped the residents of Orchard Manor Nursing home complete a festive craft, sing carols accompanied on piano by a Grove City College music major and exchange gifts, a favorite among the residents, according to Horn.
“There is no better feeling than making a resident smile and they truly look forward to our visits each time,” Horn said. “It is a great reminder of what really matters and what Christmas is about.”
As the Grove City College community helps its neighbors – children, soldiers, those is need and the elderly – it shows the love of Christ and fulfills a mission of being good stewards of what God has given and using those gifts to bless others.