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Loyola serving up more than just holiday cheer

Loyola press release - December 17, 2010

For many, the holidays are a time to reach out to those in need, and several Loyola University New Orleans community members are doing just that this holiday season.

For instance, Student Affairs has forgone their traditional holiday party for the second year in a row to spend a day volunteering with the St. Bernard Project, rebuilding homes of Katrina survivors.

“Our work with the SBP last year was so meaningful that we’ve decided to make it our annual holiday event together. This year, we will work side by side and enjoy the true spirit of the season,” said M.L. “Cissy” Petty, Ph.D., vice president for student affairs and associate provost.

Institutional Advancement joined with the College of Law to donate gifts and money to the Louisiana State Bar Association's Secret Santa Program. Arlene Wiltz, chaplain in the College of Law, says that enough "Christmas Angels" participated to provide toys, books and clothing to nearly 20 children in need.

Black Student Union President Alexis Gaddis has also worked with Student Affairs to organize a university-wide toy drive for Early Childhood Support and Services, which cares for young, at-risk children suffering possible abuse and neglect.

“We are hoping to help 37 families throughout the New Orleans area,” Gaddis said. “We started the toy drive a little more than two weeks ago and we’ve been very encouraged with the response from both the students and faculty.”

The Ignacio Volunteers will spend their Christmas break in Jamaica and Belize for two winter service programs. Half the Belize-bound students will hold a school camp in the Mayan outpost of San Jose, a rural village without electricity or running water. The other half of the Belize group will hold a school camp in the small village of Hopkins, a Garifuna settlement on the Caribbean Sea. Another group of 11 students and three staff will travel to Kingston, Jamaica where they will serve the elderly and disadvantaged youth, working especially with those with special needs and severe disabilities.

A little closer to home, Uptown Campus Dining, a dining partnership between Loyola and Tulane University, collected more than 2,280 cans for Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana as a part of Sodexo’s annual Helping Hands Across America canned food drive. Helping Hands Across America is a nationwide canned goods drive that pairs schools with local charities in an effort to provide for their community.

Additionally, the Loyola Women Read book club, made up of alumni, faculty and staff, is donating children’s books to the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. The group donates children’s books to a different charity each year.

And in keeping with the Ignatian tenet of service to others, Jesuit Center Fellow Katrina Weschler and her family are helping bring a miracle to Haiti this Christmas. The Weschler family is helping Marcel Faugue return to Port-au-Prince for Christmas. Faugue was brought to the U.S. from Haiti six months ago to undergo brain surgery for on orange-sized tumor buried in his skull.

Weschler’s parents, a doctor and a nurse, met Faugue while treating one of his friends a Haitian tent hospital following the earthquake. They diagnosed Faugue and returned with him to Chicago, where they raised more than $40,000 needed to pay for medical expenses. Today, Faugue is tumor free and about to be reunited with his wife and three children in time for Christmas.