Written by Kate Harner
This year, Eastern's Day of Giving pre-Thanksgiving Dinner will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Nov. 25 in Hurley Hall on Eastern's North Campus.
The Day of Giving was created by Jason Budahazy '09 in 2007. This year, junior Amy Gorman, president of the student-run club People Helping People (PHP), heads the Day of Giving Committee, a group of students who prepare for the food drives and the actual day of the event. They receive support from local stores, Eastern's Offices of Community Service and Institutional Advancement, the Center for Community Engagement, the Office of Housing and Residential Life and Chartwells Dining Services, among others.
Gorman organized the food drives, which are held over the five weekends before Thanksgiving. "Day of Giving is such a dynamic project because it brings so many people together for one common goal. The Eastern campus community comes together to put on the actual day of event, to collect food in the residence halls and to go out to the stores on the weekends and collect food," said Gorman. "The community makes this event possible by being generous enough to donate food at the stores for the local food pantries."
The Day of Giving food drives are held in all of Eastern's residence halls, as well as Wal-Mart, the Willimantic Food Co-Op, Shaw's Supermarkets and Bob's IGA. Volunteers from different clubs, activities, sports teams and residence halls participate in the food drive, which will be held from 9 a.m. to on the following dates: Nov. 7 at Bob's IGA in Hebron; Nov. 8 at Wal-Mart; Nov. 14 at the Willimantic Food Co-Op; Nov. 15 at Shaw's in East Hampton; Nov. 21 at Bob's IGA; and Nov. 22 at Shaw's.
Last year, more than 20,000 nonperishable food items were collected and donated to the Northeast Food Collaborative, which includes the Covenant Soup Kitchen, Catholic Charities and Access Agency. So far this year, more than 1,500 food items and $150 in donations have been collected. Beth Zambrano, AmeriCorps VISTA and coordinator in Eastern's Office of Community Service said, "Donations have been extremely generous. Already, we have received greatly needed items like baby formula and items in large bulk."
The second part of Day of Giving consists of a large-scale Thanksgiving meal with all the traditional fixings for those who would otherwise go without. Chartwells Dining Services will provide and prepare food for the day. Students from clubs and activities like PHP, along with members of faculty and staff, will volunteer on that day to make the guests' experience more enjoyable and relaxing. More than 400 community members were served last year.
"Last year, I saw how much people truly appreciated this event," said Gorman. "Some of the guests with whom I interact on a regular basis still talk about it a year later, telling me how much they loved it."
For more information, contact Eastern's Office of Community Service at (860) 465-0684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.