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Dec. 14, 2006 • Volume 15 Number 8

Elizabeth LaPadula '10, left, and friend entertain a young visitor at the Christmas Buddies party hosted this past Saturday by the Office of Residential Life for about 50 area children and their foster families.

Holidays at the Heights

Members of the Boston College community give of their time, energy, faith, spirit and other resources throughout the year, but during the holiday season - beginning with Thanksgiving and stretching into January - their good works seem to shine the brightest. A look at some recent, ongoing and upcoming community service and outreach activities involving BC students, faculty, administrators and staff:

Some 75 Boston College undergraduates organized by the Volunteer Service Learning Center into two separate groups will be in Mississippi Jan. 7-14 to lend a hand with on-going relief efforts that continue 16 months after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to the Gulf Coast.

A group of 35 led by the Undergraduate Government of Boston College will head to Pass Christian, Miss., and work under the auspices of Persevere Disaster Relief, an organization started by William Driscoll '05.

"We will do anything from de-molding homes to taking out trees to cleaning up empty lots," said Kelly Dalton '09, of Swampscott, Mass., who has been to the region twice since the hurricane struck.

Dalton said the odious task of donning a "Ghostbuster" suit and "power buffer" and cleaning out homes that have been abandoned was a far better way to spend the month-long Christmas than staying at home.

"There's been so little media attention given to that area but everyday I think about those families," said Dalton.

A second group of 40 organized by the AHANA Leadership Council will make their way to Gulfport, Miss., and will work with Derrick Evans, an African and African Diaspora Studies Program faculty member who has been at work in the region since Katrina. Evans is aiding relief efforts in his hometown of Turkey Creek, Miss.

Evans has established a recognized nonprofit corporation, the Turkey Creek Community Initiative.

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As a way of reminding themselves of their good fortunes and to contribute to a worthy cause, Grounds Maintenance Manager Jamie Slattery and his son, Mason, 18, traveled to New Orleans to assist with clean-up efforts in that city during the week before Thanksgiving.

The Slatterys said it is plain to see the Big Easy is still in need of plenty of attention.

"At the rate they're going they will be rebuilding New Orleans for the next 25 years," said Jamie Slattery.

The pair made their way to New Orleans as part of a contingent organized through Boston Cares, an agency that typically leads team oriented volunteer opportunities throughout Greater Boston.

"A lot of the people were grateful but were very angry about the lack of help from the government," said Mason.

The Slatterys worked with others cleaning and gutting houses that had been abandoned since Katrina. What they saw and experienced would not soon be forgotten, said the elder Slattery. He shared some of the horrific photos that he and his son had taken, such as those of rotting homes, furniture still hanging from trees and an entire house uprooted and dropped on a pick-up truck.

Mason said, "I would say that people shouldn't forget how much more help that this place needs, because so many people were left without their homes."

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For almost a quarter-century, Facilities Services Assistant Director Paula Forget has organized a campus Christmas clothing and toy drive. Names of needy children - along with their ages (ranging from infant to 18 years old), clothing sizes and gift wish list - are provided to Forget from the Department of Social Services and the Italian Home for Children. Anyone interested in obtaining the name of a child from the list can contact Forget at ext.2-8875 or forget@bc.edu. An expenditure of $25-30 per child is recommended. Gifts must be turned in no later than Wednesday, Dec. 20.

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The Office of Student Services is presenting its annual raffle of Christmas gift baskets, with proceeds benefiting the Boston Medical Center, Catholic Charities, Department of Social Services, St. Columbkille's School in Brighton, the Italian Home for Children and a battered women's shelter. Last year's raffle raised more than $4,000.

The baskets, which each contain various prizes grouped around a theme, will be on display until Tuesday, Dec. 19, from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. daily in Lyons 207. The raffle will take place on Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $1 apiece or six for $5.

For more information, contact Jane McGuire at ext.2-4972.

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Two BC members of a national Latina sorority are organizing a toy drive to help needy families in Boston. Noelani Guerrero '07, and Dana Cordero '08, members of the Boston chapter of the Omega Phi Beta Sorority, are working to gather new toys for La Sociedad Latina, a Boston non-profit that assists families in the Roxbury and Mission Hill neighborhoods.

Members of the Boston College community who wish to participate in the "Three King's Day" Toy Drive can do so by dropping off new toys at the Sister Thea Bowman AHANA Center at 72 College Road through Jan. 5. The items will be presented to La Sociedad Latina at the organization's annual meeting and Three Kings's Day celebration on Jan. 6.

Guerrero says that the toys should be suitable for children ages infant-13. All donated toys must be new and in their original packaging, she notes.

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A highlight of the Connell School of Nursing annual holiday party (held yesterday) is the benefit silent auction organized by Prof. Joellen Hawkins. Sports memorabilia, jewelry, artwork and other items are auctioned off and the proceeds are donated to Rosie's Place. Last year's auction raised nearly $1,840.

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Connell School of Nursing graduate students had a pretty busy first week of December: They held a dinner dance at the Park Plaza Hotel on Dec. 2 that raised $1,000 for The Global Fund (www.theglobalfund.org), which fights AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria around the world. Then on Dec. 4 and 5, they organized pizza luncheons where attendees could donate clothes, toiletries and winter accessories from a wish list of the Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center, a Boston agency that provides health care to homeless and disadvantaged teens and young adults.

* * *

During the semester break, the Connell School will debut the Global Health Initiative, a new immersion-based service-learning experience in which eight undergraduates and two graduate students will provide nursing care and health education to residents in one of Nicaragua's poorest communities.

From Jan. 4-14, the CSON group will be centered at a neighborhood clinic in Nueva Vida in Ciudad Sandino, built originally for survivors of the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake and further populated in 1998 with families displaced by Hurricane Mitch. The community lacks running water, sanitation facilities, and electricity and there is much acute and chronic illness, inadequate employment, and educational disadvantage.

Along with tax-deductible donations, GHI participants seek contributions of medications and medical supplies such as rubber gloves, tongue depressors, antibiotics, antiseptic creams and lotions, minor surgical instruments, and sterile dressings. Other useful items are soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, insect repellent, cloth and sewing supplies, coloring books and crayons, toys, lollipops, books in Spanish, and children's clothing.

For more information, contact Assoc. Prof. Joyce Pulcini (CSON) at ext.2-3232 or joyce.pulcini.1@bc.edu.

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Whatever else they might do over Christmas vacation, students at the Mary Lyon School of Brighton can enjoy a little reading, thanks to the Graduate School of Social Work.

GSSW student Madeline Howe felt that the school's Student Collective - for which she is the community action coordinator - should organize a holiday outreach activity that would enable her colleagues, despite their busy schedules, to make a difference.

So, taking a page from her undergraduate days at Tulane University, Howe organized a "giving tree" project to benefit students at Mary Lyon, which has established an inclusion program for children with severe social and emotional disabilities.

Howe set up "trees" in the GSSW faculty and student lounges, both adorned with ornaments containing names of Mary Lyon students - almost 120 overall. Faculty and students were invited to select one to three names apiece and buy books for the children. More than 100 members of the GSSW community participated, Howe says; the books they purchased cover subjects from sports to anime to Egypt to horror.

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At the end of this month, a group of Graduate School Social Work faculty and students will travel to India, where they will participate in a unique learning experience about human services in the region. As part of their trip, the group will visit Dalit children living in an orphanage, and are looking for items they can use for arts and crafts activities with the youngsters: popsicle sticks, coloring books, pencils and pens, markers and crayons, glue (bottle and sticks), stickers, fuzzy art balls, glitter glue, pipe cleaners and Polaroid film.

These items should be packaged and left in the donation box located in the GSSW student lounge in McGuinn Hall.

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Two recently initiated holiday outreach events enjoyed success this month. BC's second annual Fair Trade Holiday Sale, which took place Dec. 7 in the McElroy Conference Room, raised more than $2,000 to benefit the Miraflor Scholarship Fund in Nicaragua and the Fundahmer-CEBES in El Salvador. As a result, at least 15 Nicaraguan and Salvadoran children will be able to attend school.

Also, this week the Office of Graduate Student Life wrapped up its third annual Toys for Tots toy drive, surpassing its goal of collecting 500 toys from students, faculty, and staff.

-Compiled by Office of Public Affairs staff

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