It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which in college speak means finals, papers and hopefully some festive secret santa gift giving to keep everyone sane. But for some less fortunate, the holidays are an all-too-real reminder of all they have lost, or what they can’t afford.
That’s an issue that Chef-Senior James Pellegrini from Sodexo hoped to combat in his efforts to create a Decorate to Donate on the SUNY New Paltz campus, for students to give back and get jolly without breaking the bank.
Decorate to Donate started just last year, when Pellegrini saw an empty niche for students around the holidays: donating to charity. Year after year, we see Salvation Army bell ringers across the United States, hoping to give those in need a better Christmas, along with countless other local fundraisers and gift drives for children.
But a lot of that community service was getting lost on a college campus around finals time. Thus, Pellegrini pitched the idea to his superiors and started a gingerbread decorating fundraiser that would both be helpful for students and for the charity of choice, which was slated to change each year, according to Pellegrini.
This year’s proceeds will go to The Stop Hunger Foundation, which Sodexo as a brand supports company-wide. The proceeds from last year’s event, which had a larger margin of participation at three to one, were donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
“I got the idea to try to do something for the children that are going through a difficult time dealing with cancer. It’s something no child should ever have to go through,” Pellegrini said.
The brightly decorated gingerbread houses are set up in the Atrium until Dec. 11. Though last year’s houses were $25 and this year’s prices decreased to $10, there was a lack of participation from students.
“I think that it was so much easier to donate through Tapingo last year,” said third-year digital media production major Camille Murphy. “I also saw more advertisements last time. It felt like this year was less talked about because it wasn’t new.”
If college students are looking to give back this holiday season, and missed the gingerbread decoration, the Civil Service Employee Association (CSEA) is hosting a toy drive for children. Donation boxes are located in various academic buildings across campus, as well as in the basement of Haggerty Administration Building and in the SUB.
Although we see a rise in charity events around the holiday season, giving back should be a priority all year round. Food pantries, nursing homes and shelters are some of the few places that could use a helping hand or two any time throughout the year. Family of New Paltz and Salvation Army are two local charities in the New Paltz area, but giving back could be as simple as purchasing a few canned goods and bringing them to a food bank.
“We should always look to give back to those who need help, not just around the holidays, but always. We need to think about others and maybe a little less about ourselves, even if it is the cost of just one or two lattés,” Pellegrini concluded.