February 1, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 23°F


Students volunteer in their local community for the holiday season

With the winter and holiday seasons coming up, campus organizations at Ithaca College are working with local charities and hosting events to allow students to give back to the community.

One organization, the college’s chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary, participates in a service initiative called “Adopt A Family.” Marlowe Padilla, a junior student leadership consultant in the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs and vice president of the college’s chapter of the NRHH, said the NRHH sponsors a local family for the holidays in order to provide them with food and presents so they can enjoy the holiday season.

“We would buy their Thanksgiving dinner since a lot of families can’t afford a Thanksgiving dinner … and buy Christmas presents for all the children and adults,” Padilla said.

Another student group on campus, the Ithaca College Protestant Community, volunteers at the local community kitchen Loaves and Fishes every other Tuesday from about 5:15 p.m. to around 6:45 p.m.

Alisa Babcock, chair of the service and social justice community of the ICPC, said serving food at Loaves and Fishes gives volunteers a chance to learn about people in the community.

“We go and share a meal with the members of the community,” Babcock said. “And that’s a really cool way to get in touch with people who need food from that community kitchen and be able to learn from them and get to know some really cool people that way.”

Emily Massaro, a senior student leadership consultant in OSEMA, said one of the most important factors to helping students give back to the community during the holidays is to promote student organizations through social media.

“We have a whole section of the [OSEMA] website that’s dedicated to different volunteer opportunities that we have,” Massaro said.

She said OSEMA uses a volunteer LISTERV like a biweekly newsletter to allow students to find out about different organizations downtown, upcoming events and to sign up for volunteer opportunities.

Babcock said the ICPC joins with Awaken, another on-campus faith community, to host a Christmas-themed event called “Awaken the Night With Song.”

She said the event, which will be held from 8–10 p.m. Dec. 9 in IC Square, will help spread the holiday spirit to the men and women serving in the military by writing Christmas cards for them.

For students who are interested in working with local organizations off-campus, the Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair, a fair that allows shoppers to purchase gifts that provide charitable donations to sponsored nonprofit charities, offers volunteer positions. This year, the IAGF will be held 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Dec. 6 in two locations in Dewitt Park: the First Presbyterian Church and the First Baptist Church.

Meaghan Rosen, co-founding member of the IAGF and program coordinator at Friendship Donations Network, said in an email the IAGF provides an opportunity for individuals to support local organizations.

“The IAGF gives back to the community by providing essential support for local nonprofit organizations that rely on this event for fundraising and raising awareness about the work they are doing and the services they are providing to our community each day,” Rosen said via email.

She said since 2004 there has been over $480,000 donated to local organizations.

Rosen said the most important contribution to raising the funds for donation is the level of student involvement each year at the IAGF. She said students who want to get involved can either purchase gifts or come down and volunteer.

“For many years there have been IC student volunteers involved on the day of the event,” Rosen said via email. “An outstanding contribution by IC students has been the consistent news coverage of the IAGF … which helps educate the community and spread the word about the event and its role in the community.”

Padilla said rather than giving gifts to a certain group of people, OSEMA, as well as other student organizations, focuses on contributing to the needs of everyone in the community.

“It’s not so much about donating to get gifts for families,” Padilla said. “But it’s donating to local organizations and charities.”

Sara Kim can be reached at skim8@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @sara_Y_kim