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With the holidays in our rear view, St. Bonaventure’s Center for Community Engagement would like to thank the people who helped brighten the season for the less fortunate in the Olean area.
Sophomore Class President Cody Clifford organized a giving tree to bring in Christmas gifts for Warming House guests. The drive resulted in 102 gifts that gave 51 Warming House guests something to open on Christmas morning.
“I just think that this event showed that all students at Bonaventure realize how important it is to give back to the community at all times of the year, but especially at Christmas time,” Clifford said.
The Warming House, which relies on grant funding and donations to operate, received two significant gifts from Western New York high schools.
Olean High School’s Homeless Huskies program presented the Warming House with a check for $4,500. The high school’s students spend one night sleeping on the Olean High School lawn. The event has been around for 19 years, and every Husky is invited to the camp out, provided they bring a $40 donation. How the student raises the $40 is up to them.
Matthew Perry, the event’s adviser, said he is proud that so many OHS students participated in the event.
“Students receive an education hoping not only that they will lead, but also that they will serve,” he said.
In Dec. 21, students from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Buffalo made their annual trek to Olean with two truckloads of non-perishable food items. The “Food Basket Drive,” run completely by the students at the all-male Catholic high school, is the largest donation of non-perishables the Warming House receives annually. In this, their 41st year of the drive, St. Joe’s students donated nearly 15,000 food items.
In an interview with WIVB Channel 4 in Buffalo, Food Basket co-chair Rick Englert said, “There’s no incentive (for the students) to do it. It’s all a community-building type of thing.”
Several members of the local community have stepped up to volunteer at the Warming House while students were on break. Thanks to them, the Warming House kept its doors open, and kept hundreds of stomachs full.
Students involved in the CCE’s First-Year Service Program (FYSP), a program that gives freshmen an opportunity to get involved in service activities in a fun, group setting, spread holiday cheer throughout Cattaraugus County. FYSP has four groups with specific focus areas: women, family and children; senior citizens; the environment; and animal rights.
FYSP’s senior citizens group, led by junior Jessie Briggs, visited with residents at The Pines nursing home all semester. In early December, Briggs and her group made a holiday visit to The Pines, delivering fresh-baked cookies that they frosted with the residents.
Another group, led by sophomore Jessie Brower, presented each resident of Absolut Care of Allegany with live miniature Christmas trees — called the Norfolk island pine — that can be grown indoors as a houseplant.
The women, children and families groups spent time volunteering at an area women's shelter decorating, baking and visiting with the families.
Finally, the animal rights groups volunteered for the SPCA of Cattaraugus County in a variety of ways, including wrapping gifts at the Olean Centre Mall as part of an SPCA fundraiser.
Thanks to several on-campus programs and local businesses, the second annual Bona Buddies Basket Raffle raised over $1,000 for its youth mentoring program. This enabled the program to hold holiday programs, support disadvantaged families and purchase needed supplies and equipment for the children in the program.
The holiday cheer extended beyond Cattaraugus County.
Senior Alaina Wilson Collins teamed up with the CCE for her Merry Christmas, Marine Corps program. Wilson created this program as her Local Action Project for Clare 401, setting a lofty goal of sending 300 Christmas cards to Marine Corps troops stationed in Afghanistan. Thanks to the help of the CCE and several St. Bonaventure students who wrote letters, Wilson was able to brighten Christmas for 310 soldiers.
“My project would not have been able to reach the level that it did without the assistance from the CCE, and it would have been terrible to have received letters but been unable, financially, to send them,” she said. “I owe a large part of the success of the project to the CCE. Their support made my project possible.”
The CCE wishes everyone in the Bonaventure community a happy and healthy 2012, and encourages all to considering taking part in service as part of their New Year’s resolution.
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