One Big Gift Basket of Good Will
Service award winner turned office party into major charity drive
By Reid Oslin
Student Services Administrative Specialist Jane McGuire admits that she is a "frustrated social worker."
In her undergraduate days at the University of New Hampshire, McGuire studied social work. Throughout her life, she has been an active participant in the Christ Child Society, a national organization devoted to assisting low-income families with small children.
So it was no surprise that she helped turn a small Boston College office holiday tradition into a campus-wide endeavor benefiting hundreds of needy children in the greater Boston area.
McGuire oversees Student Services' annual Christmas basket raffle, which last year raised more than $4,000 to provide clothing, toys and food and brighten the holiday season for dozens of needy families designated by Catholic Charities, the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, the Boston Medical Center Clinic and Project Hope organization.
In recognition of her efforts, McGuire will receive Boston College's Community Service Award from University President William P. Leahy, SJ, at next Tuesday night's dinner honoring Boston College's retiring and 25-year anniversary faculty members and employees to be held at the Heights Room in Corcoran Commons [see separate story on page 6].
"I am overwhelmed by the award," McGuire says. "I just enjoy doing this. I love working with the Boston College charity project and I love working with the Christ Child Society.
"I have gotten so many heartwarming letters from people that we have been able to help. People write 'Thank you to BC. My children would not have had a jacket or a coat or shoes without your help.' Some of these people only live 10 miles from our campus."
Five years ago when several University offices were merged to form a Student Services division, Director Louise Lonabocker suggested that a charity gift project might be more appropriate than individual gift-giving. She asked McGuire to coordinate the effort.
"Louise was aware that I knew a lot of social workers from my work with the Christ Child Society," McGuire recalls, "so I called some of my contacts and asked if they could use some money that we might be able to raise from the basket raffle."
The answer was a resounding "Yes" and McGuire put the new holiday project into action. "I think we had eight baskets the first year and we raffled them off right in the Student Services office. A couple of people heard about it, and the next year it started to grow. Last year, we had 24 baskets donated by offices and individuals from all over the University."
The typical gift basket in the raffle contains an assortment of useful products, often arranged around a theme. "Last year, we had one labeled 'Saturday Night,'" McGuire says. "It had tickets to a movie theater, certificates for dinner, some Blockbuster video tickets, popcorn and other entertainment-oriented items. Another one was called 'Sunday Morning' and included all sorts of things for a brunch.
"We had one we called 'Baby It's Cold Outside' that had a hand-knitted scarf, gloves and a bottle of wine," she laughs. "It's really a fun thing to do."
McGuire solicits the names of the needy families before she even begins collecting the raffle items. "We do it on good faith and I've never been disappointed," she says. "BC always comes through. We were overwhelmed with the generosity of folks on campus."
McGuire's good works are not limited to the holiday raffle project. She also oversees an ongoing bottle and can collection drive from campus offices that netted nearly $900 last year and provided toys for about 100 needy children.
She also collects usable clothing from University employees to be distributed by the Christ Child group.
"I just enjoy doing things for people," McGuire says.