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CCRI students, employees work overtime to provide cheer during holiday season

December 22, 2021

‘Tis the season for giving, and Community College of Rhode Island students, faculty, and staff have worked harder than ever during the pandemic to ensure a happy holiday for those in need.

Through multiple charitable endeavors, including canned food, clothing, and toy drives, the CCRI community stepped to the plate this winter – and throughout the semester – finding new, creative ways to gather and continuing to put others first amidst the pandemic as the college returned to in-person learning in the fall.

Thanks to collaborative efforts across all four campuses:

  • CCRI’s Dental Hygiene students completed a holiday community outreach project through the Student American Dental Hygienist's Association, collecting and donating 84 care packages to Crossroads Rhode Island and the Mathewson Street United Methodist Church.
  • The CCRI Police Department held its annual toy drive, donating books, games, and clothes to foster children across the state through Family Services of Rhode Island, a non-profit social service organization that manage programs throughout the state to provide essential resources for underserved individuals, families and communities. 
  • Members of CCRI’s Collegiate DECA chapter set up drop boxes at both the Warwick and Newport campuses from November to mid-December to collect canned goods, non-perishable food items, and clothing to help families in need.
  • The CCRI Student Nurse Organization participated in Rhode Island’s Adopt-A-Family Program, adopting five CCRI students and their families to help brighten their holiday with donated wish-list items such as gift cards to major retailers, age-appropriate toys, children’s clothing, and diapers.
  • CCRI’s Student Veterans Organization chapter held its own toy drive to collect items to donate to families struggling to provide gifts for their children during the holiday season.
  • The college’s Office of Student Life launched a Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway in which various departments across CCRI donated baskets – 18 total – to families in need with local auto dealer Flood Ford matching their efforts by donating a turkey for each basket collected.

“CCRI students continue to demonstrate their commitment to excellence and to each other through their various community service projects,” said Dean of Students Michael Cunningham. “Taking care of each other, making the needs of individuals the needs of the community is part of what makes me so proud to be Dean of Students here. 

“Assisted by a dedicated and supportive staff and faculty, our students, no matter their own needs, always seek to help others whose needs may be greater. From our health science and human services majors to our student groups, community is our priority.”

The college’s efforts during the holiday season are merely an extension of the work done throughout the year by students and staff, noted Dean of Student Life Christine Jenkins, who helped spearhead many of the student-led drives and collections this past semester.

The Food Pantry, for example, remains one of the college’s greatest charitable endeavors, and is open year-round to students and families struggling with food insecurity. Earlier this year, the college’s Educational Support Professionals Association (ESPA) donated 270 items and approximately $120 worth of Stop & Shop gift cards to the Pantry. Likewise, student Destiny Morin of Woonsocket facilitated a deal between the college and her employer, Nouria Energy, to secure additional donations for the Food Pantry — a total of 863 food and health products that can be used by those in need. The Food Pantry also adjusted to the challenges of the pandemic, offering curbside service throughout the semester. 

“It’s important for our students to know these resources are here,” Jenkins said.

As students and on-campus organizations began collecting more items during the holiday season, Student Life staff went above and beyond to ensure gifts reached their proper destination; some staff members even delivered gift baskets to the recipients’ homes, assisting those who ride public transportation and couldn’t travel with that many items.

Jenkins said the countless notes, emails, and letters from those who received items was a “very gratifying” experience, confirming that CCRI’s charitable endeavors throughout the year have had a profound impact on the lives of students and their families.

“The responses were overwhelming. Whether it’s, ‘This has made a big difference for me and my family,’ or, ‘My family and I appreciate your kindness and love.’ That’s when you know what we’re doing is really hitting home.”

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