Hawks for the holidays

Many people view the holiday season as a time for thinking of those in need, and nothing embodies that spirit like RWU’s Hawks for the Holidays giving program. Starting in 2014, the university partners with Colt-Andrews Elementary School for the program, as well as the Benjamin Church Senior Center.

Director of the Feinstein Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement KC Ferrara said they partner with Colt-Andrews because “they have the highest number of free lunches, which indicates they have the highest amount of economic need amongst their population.”

The school then picks 12 families that need help with gifts and puts up trees around campus with tags on them with a small wishlist for the whole family, not just kids. Ferrara also said not every family needs the program for the same reason.

“Sometimes the need is economic,” said Ferrara. “Sometimes it’s because a parent’s gotten cancer and the family could use an emotional lift, or there’s a parent that’s been deployed, or there are children being fostered by their grandparents.”

The university only added the Benjamin Church Senior Center to the program a couple of years ago, which includes mostly random items, such as slippers for men and women, smoke detectors and magazines. Ferrara also said that COVID-19 put a “major damper” on the program in 2020. Despite this, last year the program collected gifts adding up to almost $6,000, including miscellaneous gift cards the school is able to hold onto throughout the school year.

“Say a family loses a job or is burned out of their home, they’ll have a bank of gift cards to be able to give a family in need, and that also includes the senior center,” Ferrara said. Ferrara also said the first couple of years they only did the program for a couple of families, until they realized that with 6,000 odd people on campus between faculty, staff and students, they could make a lot more.

“I think everyone enjoys going a little above and beyond,” said Ferrara.

The deadline for gifts is Monday, Dec. 12, and should be delivered to the farmhouse across from Lower Commons. Trees are located in Upper and Lower Commons, as well as the lobby in the Global Heritage Hall (GHH).