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Giving at Thanksgiving

Students with donation material for Thanksgiving
Group picture of Caldwell University clubs representatives
Briana-Gaspich carrying donation material.

Several Caldwell University clubs reached out to those in need this Thanksgiving.

HPC Community Service Student spearheads Turkey Drive Inaugural campus Thanksgiving Dinner

Health Professions Club: Community service and food drive connect to medical field

Caldwell University seniors Demetrest Francois and Regina Gido say there is a connection between their goals of pursuing medical careers and their club’s activities in giving to the community. Gido, president of the student-run Health Professions Club, and Francois, activities coordinator for the club along with Koumudi Thirunagaru, a club member, led a Halloween for Hunger Food Drive to benefit the Caldwell Food Pantry and the Montclair Human Needs Pantry. “The medical field is about serving others,” which is why the club members want to engage in community service, said Gido, who is from Freehold, N.J. From Oct. 31 to Nov. 14, the students collected donations for those in need. They delivered flyers ahead of time and then put crates out on campus and went door to door in the borough of Caldwell “trick or treating for goods,” said Francois, a resident of Maplewood, N.J. The result was very positive and “more than we expected,” he said.

The other student club members who volunteered to help with the drive were: Aaron Choi, Albert Mensah, Jasleen Kaur, Joyce Attey, Tiara Crisler, Jay Patel, Jaimie Peter, and Anamta Contractor.

The club plans to hold a drive next semester to benefit those whose lives were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, said Gido, whose mother is from Manila.

Student spearheads turkey drive to benefit shore area

Senior Briana Gaspich has been doing community service with her Aunt Crissi since she was a little girl. One of their big projects has been an annual turkey drive. “My aunt got me started in charity work. She was a member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation, and she would bring me to the bowling fundraiser they did every year,” Gaspich said. Aunt Crissi also got her niece involved in the Surfrider Foundation, which works to preserve oceans, waves and beaches. “And I used to cut coupons for those who had family members in the armed forces,” Gaspich said.

This year Gaspich, who is from Brick, N.J., decided to expand the turkey drive. She asked family, friends and members of the Caldwell University community if they would help. One door she knocked on was that of Don O’Hagan, Caldwell’s chief information officer, who on the spot generously donated and contacted the Student Government Association to see if it would get on board. The SGA enthusiastically donated a grocery store gift card. In the end, Gaspich was able to collect 31 turkeys and $150 in groceries to benefit the Manasquan Food Pantry. “Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays,” she said. “For me, the holiday is not just about being thankful for what I have, but also about giving to others so they can have a happy Thanksgiving.”

She expressed gratitude to the SGA, O’Hagan and her family and friends for supporting the campaign and said she is blessed with “a great family, outstanding mentors and amazing friends who all support me, especially with charity work.” A criminal justice and psychology major who plans to attend the police academy and become a hostage negotiator, Gaspich was juggling 21 credits this semester and commuting from the shore area and was still able to pull off the turkey drive. “There is always time for charity work,” she said.

Inaugural campus Thanksgiving dinner and turkey drive benefit Caldwell Food Pantry

At the inaugural faculty and staff Thanksgiving dinner, the student activities office and Campus Ministry held a food drive to benefit the Caldwell Food Pantry. Employees and students were invited to bring a canned food donation in return for a discounted meal through the college’s food service, Gourmet Dining.

“It was a great opportunity for the community to come together to give back at this time when we are reflecting on all we are thankful for,” said Tim Kessler-Cleary, director of student activities.

The Marketing Club held a bake-off on campus where student clubs were invited to bake various Thanksgiving themed goods. The club with the best tasting creation won $50 toward their club budget. Anyone who bought a baked good was entered into the raffle to win a cooked Thanksgiving dinner for four people, courtesy of Gourmet Dining.

The office of student activities and volunteer outreach collected frozen turkeys to help provide local families with a Thanksgiving meal through the Caldwell Food Pantry.