CASTLETON UNIVERSITY: Communication Students Brighten Holidays for Local Families


Castleton University issued the following announcement on Dec. 20.

Students in Media and Communication Professor David Blow’s Media Ethics class are raising money to benefit underprivileged children in the Rutland area during the holiday season. This is the fifth year of the project, and the class is working with families from the Vermont Achievement Center for a second year.

Members of the class have been going around campus asking for donations in order to meet their $1,000 goal, which will help them to purchase necessities including clothing, cold weather gear, and toys. They will attend a party at VAC during finals week, where they will hand out the gifts.

“I love seeing the kids and the families being happy and I love seeing my students learn from this sort of thing,” Blow said.

The project contributes to the civic engagement component of the class. Since Media Ethics is only provided during the fall semester, Blow said it made sense to do a Holiday fundraiser to cap it off.

Blow is given a list of necessities and wishes from VAC instructors, and he and some students go shopping for gifts and wrap them. He said they try to be careful with giving each child a fair number of presents.

“It’s a lot of effort,” he said. “But I find it worth it.”

In the past, students focused on helping one family, which was identified by the local food pantry as the neediest. They went to their home and celebrated Christmas with them. In the project’s third run, the class worked with POISE, a housing program based in Rutland for pregnant or parenting youth.

Blow said he appreciates the commitment by the students. In the project’s first year, six students gave up their Christmas morning to give strangers a meaningful holiday.

“I think it was the most special Christmas I ever had,” he said.

This year, Blow said one mother asked him if her family had to show up to the party to get presents because they did not have any for the holiday; so, students will be providing a Christmas morning for children who otherwise will not have one.

“That should give you a sense of the impact that this has,” Blow said.

As a civic engagement project, students not only raise money and purchase gifts but also experience the holiday from the perspective of those who are less fortunate. Blow said they see how thankful people are and they gain an awareness of the good deed they are committing.

“I think they get the sense of something bigger than themselves and a realization of how Christmas is very different for some families,” he said.

Vermont Achievement Center has served families and children in the Rutland area since 1937. It provides early education programs aimed at empowering the minds of children, allowing them to flourish.

Original source can be found here.

Source: Castleton University

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