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Community Embodies Christmas Spirit through Sponsor-A-Family 2013

Volunteers from the SJU community spread Christmas cheer to families in need this holiday season through the Sponsor-A-Family program.
Friday, January 3, 2014

Close to 100 volunteers from the St. John’s University community spread Christmas cheer to families in need this holiday season through the Sponsor-A-Family program run by St. John’s Bread and Life. Over four days in December, students, faculty, alumni, and staff gathered to organize and distribute healthy food, warm clothing, and new toys for over 2,000 registered families.

For almost 20 years, the University has partnered with St. John’s Bread and Life, the largest emergency food provider in Brooklyn, to provide necessities to people who are homeless or financially struggling.  Arthur Sherman, librarian and associate professor of history, said, “I am always impressed by the wide age range of the volunteers and by the number of families that join together to help other families.”

On December 14 members of the University community gathered to sort and organize items for distribution. Aleksandra Wachowicz ’15CPS, who hails from Legionowo, Poland, joined her volleyball teammates in toting heavy boxes of fruits, vegetables, and canned food.  “Although I did not get to interact directly with the people I was helping,” she said, “I had some unforgettable moments. It was freezing, but we had a great time laughing and working together.”

Volunteers met again on December 15 to package the sorted items, and on December 21 and 22 to distribute the donations. Each family left St. John’s Bread and Life with toys for their children, a holiday meal of turkey or ham and trimmings, and fresh produce sustainably grown by New York State farmers.  

Clare M. Byrne, grants and sponsored programs analyst, is a five-time Sponsor-A-Family volunteer.  “An incredible number of people are involved in the effort,” she said. “It always amazes me to see a room stacked to the ceiling with toys when we arrive and then totally empty when we leave. It’s a wonderful experience and a good way to practice the true meaning of Christmas.”