Service is all about the “little word love," said Caldwell College senior Elizabeth Hooban as she gave the kickoff talk for the fifth annual Caldwell Day on Sept. 20.
Members of the campus community gathered to listen to Hooban before they headed out to nonprofits and churches for the day of service. Hooban shared how during her college career she had “life changing experiences” through volunteering and she learned that service “is not about working for others, but with others."
The campus was closed that day so that students, faculty and staff could take part in community service, which is one of the college’s Catholic Dominican pillars.
Freshmen Sarah Bynre, Romell Ballentine, Catherine Carlson and Eric Strumph volunteered at the American Red Cross North Jersey Region Montclair Community service site where they organized holiday mail for the troops serving in Afghanistan.
Byrne said it felt good to know “we’re doing something for someone who is doing something for us.”
Senior Lindsay Hulin said it was a really good reminder that there are “still people fighting for us.”
Human Resources Director Michelle Stauss helped everyone get in the spirit by playing Christmas music from her phone as the group compiled cards and put ribbons and notes together for the men and women serving overseas.
The Red Cross Manager of Volunteer Services for Essex County Eileen Painter was thrilled with the energy from the Caldwell College group. It is great to “breathe new life” into the work because the future of the organization “depends on the youth,” she said.
Demetrest Francois, a senior, volunteered outside the Stop & Shop in West Caldwell where a group collected food for the Caldwell Food Pantry.
“It was a great experience,” said Francois, and it was “awesome” to be able to go to the pantry to drop off the food, see the need, and then “literally fill the room up” with what they collected.
Ellen Johnson, a reference librarian at the college, enjoyed spending her time at Marian Manor where she and others cleaned rooms for senior citizens, but more importantly spent time listening to them talk about their families and their lives.
Perhaps the day was best summed up by Alexandria Pascucci, who received her bachelor’s degree from Caldwell and is now a graduate student. She has taken part in all five of the annual Caldwell Days.
“The whole college is given this opportunity to change someone’s life and you can do that in a day,” said Pascucci.
Caldwell College President Nancy Blattner initiated Caldwell Day on campus in 2009 when she began at the college.
Caldwell Day was organized by Meghan Moran and Tim Kessler-Cleary in the office of student activities and volunteer outreach.
The nonprofits they assisted included:
- Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Hillside
- Essex County Environmental Center, Roseland
- Our Lady Help of Christians School, East Orange
- Caldwell Public Library
- Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter, West Orange
- Roseland United Methodist Church, Roseland
- Borough of Essex Fells
- American Red Cross, Montclair
- St. Aloysius Church Religious Education, Caldwell
- Caldwell Environmental Commission
- Essex County Environmental Commission
- Marian Manor, Caldwell
- Kingsland Manor, Nutley