One Office, Many Hands

One Office, Many Hands

Student Services staff exemplify the season's spirit of giving

By Stephen Gawlik
Staff Writer

For years, Student Services staff members kept a special secret from the rest of the Boston College community.

Student Services staff pose with a "health and fitness" theme holiday basket they created, one of nine baskets to be raffled off to raise funds for charity. Front row (L-R): Megan Duffy, Carey Anne Townsend, Brian Chabot and Nykolett Boger '03. Back row (L-R): Jane McGuire, Matthew Meegan and Betina Rodriguez. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
"It was really something that only we knew about," said Records Specialist Kristen Siddell. "Until now."

The secret? The recipe for Student Services Representative Mary Henson's Irish bread, a treat the 14-year veteran of Student Services bakes for office gatherings and special occasions.

A native of Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Henson has been baking the bread for 25 years. "I usually bake three of four loaves and they're usually gobbled up in an hour," she said. "It's a simple recipe but people seem to love it."

Henson's Irish bread is no longer a secret, thanks to a newly published 91-page collection of staff recipes - including eggplant dip, crabbies, Chicken Divan and apple cheese tortes - appropriately titled Student Services Cooks!

Student Services is not simply aiming to enhance culinary tastes around campus. Proceeds from the sale of the cookbooks, which cost $10 apiece, will help 15 staff members participate in a community service project next month with the Boston chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that builds affordable housing.

Remembering the Needy

A look at some other community outreach efforts for the holidays around BC:

*For the 20th year, Facilities Services Assistant Director Paula Forget is collecting clothing and toys for children who are in the care of the Department of Social Services and the Italian Home, a residential care center in Jamaica Plain for children who have suffered emotional and physical abuse. She can be contacted at ext.2-8875 or at

*When the Connell School of Nursing first hosted a holiday luncheon in 1988, it was a small affair (lasagna and salad) in a small room of Cushing Hall. That event featured a silent auction for charity, with administrators, faculty and staff contributing various items. Since then, the CSON luncheon has become a much bigger production - it took place yesterday in the Heights Room of the Lower Campus Dining Hall - and so has the silent auction. Hundreds of items are donated, and last year the event raised nearly $1,350 for Rosie's Place.

*The Jenks Leadership Program, a student organization sponsored by University Counseling, yesterday wrapped up a "giving tree" campaign to collect presents for orphans at The Home for Little Wanderers.

*Graduate School of Social Work student activities this year include caroling at local nursing homes and donating a home-made gingerbread house to the Brockton Veterans Administration Hospital. But when Stephanie Power discovered an out-of-the-way battered women's shelter in Newton, she decided the best thing she could give was her time: "I try to go as many times as I can during the week to bring some spirit to the children. It is the least I can do." -Sean Smith

Like many University offices and departments, Student Services is home to an assortment of community outreach projects great and small organized for the holiday season. Whether individually or in groups, staffers in the Lyons Hall facility - as elsewhere on campus - make it a point to remember those less fortunate.

"By doing our part to help others we are given the chance to come together in ways that we can't throughout the year," said Administrative Specialist Jane McGuire. "It's a good feeling and it raises the camaraderie in the office."

McGuire collects cans and bottles throughout the year and this month will be able to donate more than $600 to Catholic Charities and the Christ Child Society of Greater Boston, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to helping needy children and the elderly.

"The cans are donated from offices all over BC," said McGuire. "So it's really a University-wide effort."

For the second year, McGuire and her fellow Student Services staffers are "adopting" three families through programs organized by Catholic Charities and the Boston Department of Social Services and will buy clothing, toys and games for them.

To raise money for the presents, various groups and individuals from Student Services make up gift "theme" baskets that are displayed in Lyons Hall and later raffled off along with other prizes.

This year, the Student Services staff has created nine baskets using such themes as tea and coffee, international foods, Harry Potter, and health and fitness. The Harry Potter basket contains merchandise based on the popular books and movie, including small games, stamps, figurines and stuffed animals, while the health and fitness basket offers hand weights, a sports bag, workout videos, a sweat band and a gift certificate for a massage.

The baskets went on display earlier this week and will be raffled off on Dec. 20.

In past years, it was a Student Services tradition to exchange gifts among staff members, McGuire said, but more recently she and her colleagues have opted to do outreach activities instead.

"I think the feeling you get from doing things for other people is really good for you," said McGuire. "This is what Christmas is all about."  

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