A Season for Service

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ECU students, staff give back through charity

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Elizabeth Corney sorted through cans of cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes and boxes of stuffing – all the fixings for a holiday meal.

Days before Thanksgiving, students, faculty and staff from eight organizations and departments piled donated food in Corney’s Campus Kitchen office in the East Carolina University Volunteer and Service-Learning Center for the annual Turkey Palooza service event.

Twenty Thanksgiving meals, complete with turkeys, were delivered Nov. 19 to families from Operation Sunshine, an afterschool program that serves underprivileged girls in Greenville, Corney said.

“A lot of people wanted to help,” Corney said.

One of the organizations was Gamma Beta Phi honor society. Michael Carter, 19, a sophomore from Micro and the society’s service chair, said at least 25 members collected for Turkey Palooza and even more participated in Operation Christmas Child at Oakmont Baptist Church. Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, collects and distributes shoeboxes full of items like socks, crayons and small toys for needy children ages 2-14 worldwide. The group prepared 97 boxes for Samaritan’s Purse.

Leslie Tron, 23, a senior exercise physiology major from Statesville, is a regular volunteer at the service learning center.

“You know there are people out in the community who need help, so why not help?” Tron said. “It doesn’t take a lot of time. If I was in their position, I would want the same done for me.”

Other groups that helped provide the Thanksgiving meals included the Honors College, Omicron Delta Kappa, Student North Carolina Association of Educators, ECU Rotaract, the Department of Child Development and Family Relations, Air Force ROTC, and the Department of Sociology.

An annual ritual on campus, students, staff and faculty will continue to hold food and toy drives and collect donations for area organizations and charities over the next month, spreading goodwill in the community.

Some of the activities include:

  • The College of Nursing is accepting donations for the Adult Foster Christmas Project in the Pitt County Department of Social Services. More than 30 elderly or disabled adults in assisted living facilities, who have no families, need personal hygiene items such as socks, T-shirts, and deodorant. Heidi Parker, assistant to the dean of nursing, is heading up the project and can be reached at 252-744-6372 or parkerh@ecu.edu. Donations are requested by Dec. 14 or before the university’s winter break.
  • The women’s basketball team and fans at the first two home games donated canned foods to benefit the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s Greenville branch. A total of 244 people were fed from donations. “The community service event is just one of the many that ECU women’s basketball partakes in,” said Eric McCabe, director of women’s basketball operations. “We are happy to be able to give back to the community that supports ECU athletics so much.” The Department of English also collected canned goods for the local food bank.
  • The Organization of African American Staff held a food drive for the Little Willie Center Thanksgiving Day program, where more than 600 meals were expected to be prepared./li>
  • The ECU-State Employees Association of NC (SEANC District 65) makes miniature Christmas trees each year using wire clothes hangers, strands of miniature lights and garland. The trees will be used for the association’s annual holiday social then donated to Spring Arbor Nursing Home in Greenville to decorate the rooms of residents.
  • Students in ECU Honors College supported the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina by accepting donations and distributing holiday luminary kits Nov. 16 and Nov. 19.
  • Club Sports Assistant Director Justin Waters, Club Sports graduate assistant Stephen Tucci and Club Sports Site Supervisor Nick Tucker delivered 607 cans of food to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina in November. More than 17 club teams participated in the drive and Club Baseball led the way with 217 cans donated.
  • Dowdy Student Stores hosted its annual holiday sale Dec. 4. Customers brought a donation of a canned food or toy and in exchange received a free photo taken with PeeDee in a holiday setting. Other special guests included Santa, the ECU cheerleaders, musical entertainment and authors Ralph Finch signing “The Adventures of PeeDee” and ECU’s Roger Rulifson with his book, “Freddy the Frog.”