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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Campus Sponsors Gift-Giving For Homeless, Foster Kids

For the fifth consecutive year the Office of Service Learning, in cooperation with the Hyde Park Department of Social Services, is sponsoring a gift-giving party for Boston area homeless and foster children. Students, faculty, and staff at all levels of the campus community have contributed to making sure that more than 25 children, aged two to 14, will receive at least one item from their Christmas lists. According to Jain Rudivich-Higgins, director of Student Life, lists of the children’s ages, genders, and gift preferences are obtained from Hyde Park Social Services and provide each child with their UMB sponsor. “This year was better than any other year, within a week all the children were adopted by somebody from UMass Boston,” said Rudivich-Higgins at last Wednesday’s gift-wrapping event. “We’ve had wonderful participation from deans to administrators to faculty, to staff to students, every single aspect-even the facilities guys have contributed wrapping paper. So, every level, every group of the institution has been involved.” Past years have also been successful, according to Rudivich-Higgins. During the building of the Campus Center, the construction workers got wind of the event and passed around a hard hat, collecting more than $500. “I swear I burst into tears when they handed it to me,” she said. “And, that paid for the whole party.”

This year’s party is scheduled for December 15 in the Campus Center Ballroom. Pizza, cookies, and cakes will be provided. The Vietnamese Students Association has volunteered to design decorations, and Interim Chancellor Keith Motley will be on hand to distribute the gifts. “There was a challenge this year,” said Rudivich-Higgins. “The Campus Center has no doors where was I going to put these things. Well, the Campus Center was very helpful and they provided me with a locked closet that I could use for the storage,” she continued. Campus Center staff are not the only people that already have begun to volunteer in the effort. A representative from the Student Senate, Student Life Staff, VISTA volunteers, and Alumni Affairs staff donated their time to help wrap gifts. “I was just talking to Jain about it, and when she mentioned that she was doing this,” said Matt Landry, student senator. “Her face was just, like, glowing…so, it seemed like a good thing to do. I just wanted to stop by and help.” “I think it’s always important to give back to the community and to work in collaboration with current students because eventually they’re going to be alums,” said Diane Richardson, assistant to the vice chancellor of the alumni office, after wrapping a Marine G.I. Joe and Make Way for Ducklings book. She added, “I didn’t realize that they were going to have [middle] school students here as well so, it’s a nice variety of people to volunteer together.” Middle school students from the Urban Scholars Program located on the third floor of the McCormack Building also loaned their wrapping skills. The program, according to tutor supervisor Tom Pietrzak offers after school tutoring as well as specialized class on the UMB campus for academically gifted students from Boston area public middle and high schools. “We’re helping give them things that they need,” said seventh-grader Jennifer Lambrecht while fastening scotch tape to her gift.

“Now they have stuff that they can use and they don’t have to waste their money. They can have a nice Christmas holiday,” added Lai Ho, also involved in the Urban Scholars Program.

“These presents are for children who don’t have Christmas or don’t have a chance to have presents like we do, or don’t have enough money, like their parents can’t buy them stuff. So, I’m just helping out to wrap because I think that would be nice,” explained eighth-grade student Lin Rosa.

“I’m wrapping a baby hat with matching sweater and I think that will keep them really warm for Christmas…I’m glad they’ll have it. Everyone has to be warm,” she said.