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Gifts of Gratitude gives back to community

by Jordan Soldarczewski - Staff Writer
Tue, Dec 13th 2016 11:05 am

 Gifts of Gratitude, a program run by the Community Development office, connects with the Brockport Central School District to provide meals over break for students who usually get free breakfast and lunch during the school day. Previously named Seasons of Gratitude, Gifts of Gratitude is a project that Brockport has been involved in for the past five years. This year there are 13 families in need of meals over break, according to the Brockport Central School District social worker. 

Nikole Van Wie, the Coordinator for Service & Community Building, says the program is a great way for the college to give back to the community which surrounds it. 

There is an online signup where people can either select one item to bring in or they can sign up to supply food for an entire family. 

Van Wie thinks it's important, as a college, to go out and serve the community because colleges have the power to make a significant difference with such a large population of students, faculty and staff. She also explained that as you build relations with others through community service, you are more likely to go out and serve again. 

Community Development Ambassador Keara Knight is passionate about community service and emphasized why she thinks this event, and all other community service, is so important.

"The college is responsible for producing citizens who are actively engaged in the community and this provides students the opportunity to see why it's important and to create a habit of giving," Knight said.

Some of the Ambassadors have described community development with the words family, growth, unite, and inclusiveness. Knight's one word: everything. 

"I recognize that I wouldn't be in the place that I'm in without Community Development, and I feel like I've grown as a leader, I've grown professionally and personally, and I feel like this department is setting me up for my career," Knight said.

Knight also said that community service helps in gaining skills, is a great resume builder, teaches compassion and teaches how to understand other people.

With Gifts of Gratitude, there are plenty of opportunities to do all of these things while working toward a greater cause. Community Development Ambassador Lileesha Boyd explained why she thinks this particular event is meaningful to the community.

"Gifts of Gratitude is important because it's a great way of not wasting whatever excess that we have on campus," Boyd said. "We could help a family with something they need that would otherwise be taken for granted.

There are many other ways to get involved besides just donating food for the families; there are also opportunities to help with decorating boxes the food will be delivered in and also physically delivering the food to the families homes.

Everyone at the box decorating portion of Gifts of Gratitude discussed the importance of this program and community service in general. They all agreed that it's nice to help around the holidays, but also it's something people should be thinking about year-round. Community Development Ambassador Rachel Campbell especially agreed with this.

"Yes it's a good idea traditionally to give more around this time but at the same time we have to realize that people go through this everyday and this is their reality so there's a need to continue giving beyond this season of gratitude," Campbell said.

Besides this opportunity, the community development office has plenty of other community service projects which students can get involved in. Find out more about these opportunities atbrockport.edu/life/service.  



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