BY ASHLEY DALLAIRE ’18
DUDLEY—They don’t call it “the most wonderful time of year” for nothing, especially at Nichols College, where there was no shortage of holiday spirit this season.
From coat drives, feeding the homeless, fundraisers to support veterans, and toy drives for local children, Nichols students, faculty, and staff have embraced the spirit of giving.
“Community service enhances students’ education and exposes students to an environment that is inspiring and supportive of civic responsibility and community action,” said Nichols College Dean of Students Pamela J. Boggio. “Nichols students gain positive and rewarding experiences through service to those in the greatest of need in the local community.”
THANKSGIVING FOOD DRIVES
To kick-start the giving-back motion, the Nichols Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) held a Thanksgiving Food Drive Nov. 3-7 to help Webster-Dudley Food Share. Students gathered for a turkey dinner and each donated $5 (totaling $80) to the American Legion in Webster to help provide Thanksgiving meals for those in need.
The CCC (Commonwealth Coast Conference) SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) conference-wide food drive kicked off Nov. 10. During its fall meeting, each of the 10 CCC institutions decided to hold events on their respective campuses to support a local food bank. To that end, Nichols held its collection Nov. 10-17 and donated 120 canned goods to Webster-Dudley Food Share.
Sodexo Dining Services at Nichols put the icing on the cake in terms of food/can drives for the holiday season. On Nov. 13, it held its annual can/food drive. For over 10 years, Nichols Dining by Sodexo donated to the Worcester County Food Bank, and 2017 was the third year it has donated to Webster-Dudley Food Share. Last month approximately 400 lbs. of cans and nonperishables as well as 10 turkey dinners were donated to Food Share.
SUPPORTING LOCAL VETERANS
On Nov. 10, a few ELP members hosted the Nearly Naked Mile fundraiser to raise money and collect canned goods for Veterans Inc. in Worcester. The students raised $210, two free haircuts, and over 40 canned goods to help homeless veterans at the organization.
The Nearly Naked Mile was a fundraiser to support homeless veterans. To participate in the race, students, faculty, and staff were only required to donate two canned goods and at least $5 on the day of the race. This was so the student who organized the event could donate the goods and donations to Veterans Inc. in the following week. Race participant Stigerik McElhinney, a senior criminal justice major from Dracut, Mass., went above and beyond his call. Not only did he win the race, but days after the event he also had the desire to give more.
McElhinney contacted the student in charge a few days after the Nearly Naked Mile to see if they had already donated the canned goods. After hearing that they had not, he donated 10 extra cans.
“What veterans have done for us is such a selfless act, and the fact that there are some who are homeless is wrong,” he said. “Giving more cans was something very small that I could do; I didn’t know how much it would help, but I wanted to take that opportunity to help make someone’s life better.”
HELPING LOCAL CHILDREN
At the end of November, Nichols students traveled to Dudley Middle School (DMS) to help wrap 350 gifts DMS students collected to benefit Adopt-a-Child.
Nichols Student Alumni Society members held a coat drive in November to benefit the Webster-Dudley Boys & Girls Club, veterans, and homeless shelters in Worcester. The students collected 21 coats from students, faculty, and staff.
For campus community members with unwanted tickets issued by Nichols Public Safety, they had the opportunity to get it paid off in full if they donated a new, unwrapped toy with a minimum value of $10 to its 12th annual Tickets for Tots fundraiser. All 68 donated toys were given to the Dudley Police Department, which will in turn donate to local children in need and Webster-Dudley Food Share.
On Dec. 10 the ELP Christmas Celebration was held to benefit Boston Children’s Hospital. Students were asked to donate either new toys priced between $5 and $10 or new children’s books. In exchange, their names were entered in a raffle for a variety of prizes.
“Giving back is important for all of us as it raises our consciousness of the needs of others, and as a result, it teaches and creates compassion and empathy for others,” said ELP Chair and Professor Luanne Westerling, associate dean for business. “In the consciousness that is created we are also reminded of how lucky we are, and it feels good.”
The Nichols Student Government Association (SGA) partnered with the College’s Management Club and local businesses to help Operation Christmas Child. This is an organization that collects shoeboxes full of supplies, toys, and other necessities for less fortunate children ages 2-14 around the world. This year they were able to fill 61 boxes.
SGA also partnered with Fels Student Center staff to host the annual Giving Tree. From Dec. 6 to 14, students, faculty, and staff chose an angel ornament hanging on the tree. These angels had the name and gift request of a child in need. All gifts were given to children at the Webster-Dudley Boys & Girls Club.
Senior Class President Taylor Fritze of Spencer, Mass., was one of the sponsors of the Giving Tree.
“I wanted to run a fundraiser that would benefit the children of this community who are less fortunate,” she said.
GIVING BACK NEAR AND FAR
The College’s Criminal Justice Club joined the Nichols community in giving back by hosting its 2nd annual K-9 fundraiser Nov. 14. Last year, the club raised money that went directly to the Massachusetts State Police to honor fallen K-9s. With all of the money raised, there was a K-9 memorial built in Stow, Mass., to honor each K-9 that had served.
This year, instead of raising money for fallen K-9s, the Criminal Justice Club raised money to support the current State Police K-9s. The money raised went toward the dogs’ medical and food supplies. Both years, the club raised $440 and intends to raise even more next year.
Who said giving back to the community meant staying local? Students, faculty, and staff at Nichols began a movement to help people in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane Maria in September.
“Send It to Puerto Rico” was a combination of a food drive and fundraiser. Students, faculty, and staff sold T-shirts and golf towels, and faculty and staff raised over $155 through the College’s Denim Days Program.
Launched in 2014, Denim Days has helped a variety of charities. On Denim Day, which occurs every Friday during the academic year, any faculty and staff member who wants to wear jeans on Friday donates $5. The money goes to a specific charity depending on the month and time of year. One month per semester the money collected is donated to the Nichols Books Fund, which helps students in need pay for text books. One month is donated to the Faculty/Staff Endowed Scholarship Fund. One month in the spring goes to the Alternative Spring Break Fund, and the rest are for charities, which have included the ALS Family Foundation and Girls Inc.
The students, faculty, and staff at Nichols College understand the importance of giving. Not only does this show through the events and fundraisers held in just two months, but it also shows in the attitudes and lifestyles of the Nichols College community.
“Many of our fundraisers and food drives are student run; this means that Nichols College students want to make a difference,” said Boggio. “Nichols creates leaders who know that we can only be truly successful if we lift others up along the way. The students, faculty, and staff at Nichols College embody the spirit of the holidays and what it means to give back to the community.”
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
SGA President Catherine Hoey, a senior from Auburn, Mass., echoes this philosophy: “Community service brings people together in a way that normally wouldn’t. It brings people together who want to make a difference and have the same core values as you, whether you are the best of friends or complete strangers.
“Whether you donate your time, money, food, clothing, or toys this holiday season, know that you made a difference in someone’s life,” added Hoey. “To you, a few canned goods may seem like a small contribution, but to the person you are giving them to now has what seems to be a five-star meal.”
Ashley Dallaire is a Nichols College senior general business major, concentrating in marketing, business communication, and management.