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At right, Amy Weingartz, director of University Printing and Graphics, collects a stack of wrapped presents from Brandy Dashnaw, administrative support associate in the Department of English. The English Department collected toys to help a child through the ECU Holiday Drive. (Photo by Karen Simmons)


Holiday Drive brings gifts to needy children and elderly

By Karen Shugart

Janet Heath’s coworkers at East Carolina University’s Laupus Library may think she’s crazy to offer to do their shopping and gift wrapping, but she doesn’t mind. Not when it helps out those in need.

Her co-workers donate money, and Heath hits the stores for their contributions to the university’s holiday drive.

“I get a kick out of doing it,” said Heath, the library’s serials coordinator. “This time of year is all about helping your fellow man. This is a perfect way to do that.”

As a result of such giving spirit, the holidays may be a little less glum for some Pitt County children and senior citizens. ECU Business Services this week wrapped up its tradition, now in its 15th year, of coordinating a campus-wide Holiday Drive for residents in need of toys, clothing and seasonal cheer.

This year, individuals and university units, Laupus Library among them, sponsored 13 children and seven elderly adults selected by the Pitt County Department of Social Services.

“The sponsors really enjoy being able to provide for those less fortunate, and the social workers are so excited to see the outpouring from the campus community,” said Leslie Craigle, Business Services’ director of marketing.

Pitt County social workers gathered wish lists from gift recipients, who included children removed from their homes and elderly residents under social services’ supervision. Children, ranging from nine months to 7 years old, sought clothing, educational gear and toys such as dolls, trucks and play toolsets. Senior citizens received clothing and hygiene items.

Business Services each year organizes the drive as a gesture of goodwill. This year, the unit decided to forego the drop boxes traditionally scattered around campus and instead focus on matching givers and recipients. Staff worked this week to finish distributing the presents before the holiday break.

“We weren’t able to help as many charitable organizations in the community in the past, but we were able to continue helping the clients of Pitt County Social Services,” Craigle said. “Considering the economy, I think this year went much better than I anticipated.”

The participating departments and units represented East and West campuses: Academic Advising, the College of Business, Comparative Medicine, Dowdy Student Stores, the English Department, Information Technology and Computing Services, Laupus Library, Mail Services, Materials Management, OneCard office, University Printing and Graphics, and University Publications.

Many units, like Laupus Library, have participated for years. Heath said the library likely will continue to do so – with staff eagerly donating the money and letting Heath do the shopping. “I just enjoy doing it,” she said.

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This story appeared originally in the Dec. 21, 2009 issue of Pieces of Eight. An archived version of that issue is available at http://www.ecu.edu/news/cs-admin/poe/2009/1209/December-2009-Archives.cfm.