IUP's students and employees should definitely be on Santa's "nice" list this season when it comes to providing support for families in need in Indiana County.
Here are a few of the projects and programs held in December:
The IUP Libraries has a long-standing tradition of collecting new books for local families, to be distributed through the Salvation Army. This year, the drive benefited 150 children with new books as holiday gifts.
At IUP Punxsutawney, the sixth annual holiday dinner generated 450 donated toys and more than $800 for local families and children in need. This project is a great town-gown event, involving the Red Hat Society of Punxsutawney and many other community members, along with IUP students and staff members and the Aramark staff, to benefit the Salvation Army's Treasures for Children program and the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots.
Students in Dr. Ray Beisel's class also worked with Rotary International of Punxsutawney to decorate the community holiday tree in preparation for the community's Circle of Trees and tree-lighting ceremony.
The Office of Service Learning, which works throughout the year to help coordinate and encourage outreach and volunteerism, organized the university's having 45 children adopted through the Treasures for Children program, with more than 180 gifts purchased for these families. In addition, more than 75 toys were collected for the Toys for Tots program.
One of the first holiday outreach projects of the season is the university's annual tree-lighting and tree-decorating event. The university has done a tree-lighting program for decades, inviting members of the community and elementary school choral groups to perform and then offering seasonal refreshments and time with Santa.
However, seven years ago, the University Events office and the Office of the President joined with IUP's fraternities and sororities to do a tree-decorating event.
This year, 14 trees were donated and sponsored by IUP and community groups. Then, the decorations and a certificate for a live, fresh tree are donated to families through the Salvation Army. The students go out into the community to collect money for the Treasures for Children program and for a special scholarship encouraging leadership and service.
It's a wonderful way to end the semester.
Happy holidays to all. Best wishes for a healthy and restful semester break.