Helping hands for the holidays

Donation boxes for Toys for Tots and GiGi's Playhouse set up throughout campus welcome a variety of donationis for the less fortunate. Rachel Pasker/The Buzz.

Donation boxes for Toys for Tots and GiGi’s Playhouse set up throughout campus welcome a variety of donationis for the less fortunate. Rachel Pasker/The Buzz.

By Rachel Pasker

Community service is a prominent part of the St. Ambrose mission statement, and this holiday season students will have many opportunities to keep the tradition going. From boxes for donations set up around campus to the sports teams handing out baskets and gifts, SAU provides students with many ways to give back.

Toys for Tots boxes are set up in the library and outside the Dean of Students office. Donations of new toys for this cause will go to less-fortunate children in the Quad-Cities area. The collection boxes were placed all over the Quad-Cities on Nov. 1 and will be collected on Dec. 13 with the distribution of toys taking place on Dec. 21 and 22.

The 2012 drive collected and distributed toys for over 9,000 children in the area ages six months to 12 years-old. Toys for Tots is sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Alongside the Toys for Tots boxes are GiGi’s Playhouse collections sponsored by SAU’s student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children through the education department. These boxes were placed at the end of October as part of Down Syndrome Awareness Month and will take collections through Nov. 15. Donations of snacks, office supplies and art supplies can be placed in any of the boxes located in the library, Health Sciences building, Ambrose Hall and the Rogalski Center by the security office.

GiGi’s Playhouse provides support for families with children diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Barbara Wiese, the advisor for the chapter, said this year they wanted to help out a cause that was in the Quad-Cities area.

“When we bring the supplies to GiGi’s Playhouse, we will tour the center and find out about further volunteer opportunities, including tutoring the children,” Wiese said.

In addition to the donation boxes on campus, the athletic department ensures that student athletes are helping out during the holiday season. For the last 18 years, athletes have delivered Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to around 320 people in living centers through St. Anthony’s Parish in Davenport. Coach Jim Callahan works with community service projects for the athletic department and said that as part of the leadership program, all athletes will do some form of community service.

In addition to the holiday baskets, the athletes also spend time at local elementary schools, especially Madison Elementary, as part of what Coach Callahan says means to be good neighbors.

“The kids walk through here [this neighborhood] and we want to create a positive image for them,” Callahan said.

Each team buys gifts for each of the 262 students in grades kindergarten through third at Madison, spending around $10 per child. Then, on the Thursday of finals week, right before leaving for winter break, the athletes deliver their gifts to the students.They spend time playing with the students as well as watching their Christmas program.

“[The athletes] absolutely love it!” Callahan said.

In addition to the gifts that each student gives, Callahan said the baseball team also gives out t-shirts, mittens and gloves. He said it is always obvious that the Madison students look forward to the SAU athletes coming because they wear their SAU shirts specifically on that day.

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