With Santa setting up his workshop in every local mall and endless snowy days just around the corner, it is easy to get selfishly wrapped up in the stress of finals and the scramble to please everyone on our shopping lists, forgetting about those less fortunate people who struggle even more during the holidays. That is why the Interfaith Chapel is organizing its annual Gifts-for-the-Giving Project to make this festive season a little brighter for Rochester area children and families in need.

To benefit Rochester City School No. 17, St. Boniface, Church of Love Faith Center, Hillside and Mercy Residential Services, UR students and faculty are encouraged to pick out gifts for families and children of all ages and drop them off at the Interfaith Chapel or at the Gifts-for-the-Giving table located in Wilson Commons over the next three school days.

Among the suggested gifts are washcloths, bibs, sweatshirts, socks, pajamas, books, toys, cameras, stuffed animals, boots, jackets, art supplies and cookware, but any unwrapped present in good condition is appreciated and must be collected by Monday, Dec. 4.

Gloria Colls, an administrator at the Interfaith Chapel, is in charge of the project, which has been going on for over seven years. Last year, Colls expected to collect around 500 presents, so when the Rochester community gathered almost 2,000 gifts, she was ecstatic.

“This school is so wonderful, so giving, so thoughtful. It just warms your heart to see the wonderful people on this campus be so willing to give,” Colls said.

All facets of the campus community were involved last year – from Hillel, Muslim Students’ Association, Newman Community, Protestant Chapel Community, Tiernan Project, UR Christian Fellowship and the Religious Roundtable, who are all helping once again to organize it – to the Department of Dentistry, who donated boxes of toothbrushes and toothpaste.

“It’s a great event because it brings so many people together to give back to the Rochester community,” Hillel Social Justice Chair and sophomore Lee Reis said.

In addition to those groups sponsoring the event, students are encouraged to help organize the presents at the Interfaith Chapel and prepare them in boxes to be picked up by the various agencies.

“The generosity and good nature of the UR community never fails,” senior Mike Otto said. “Providing needy children with gifts during the Christmas season is the epitome of holiday spirit.”

So when it seems you can’t spend one more minute in the mall listening to another Vince Guaraldi Trio Christmas song while fending off crazed shoppers as they try to grab the PlayStation 3 from your shopping cart, remember the children and families that will have a better holiday season with the help of your generosity and the Gifts-for-the-Giving Project.

Paret is a member of the class of 2008.



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