SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. -- Union Catholic faculty members Ms. Samantha Scutieri, Mrs. Michelle Goworek, Mrs. Susan McLaughlin, and Mr. Pedro Moncada are the coordinators of Union Catholic’s annual Christmas Drive. They called on students, faculty, and staff to join forces to help those who are less fortunate in another great display of UC’s social justice initiative.
The Christmas Drive is divided into two parts. The first part of the program is faculty based, and it involves donating specific items to a group of approximately thirty senior citizens from St. Joseph’s Social Services in Elizabeth. The items include an outfit they can wear for the holiday and a toiletry item.
Additionally, UC continued the tradition of the Giving Tree, a Christmas tree that holds ornaments with the names of individuals in need, along with their requested items. This part of the Christmas Drive is student-driven and features a mix of students from each grade who are chosen to serve as "Christmas elves." They travel from classroom to classroom seeking specific items requested for families serviced by Catholic Charities in Cranford. These families are often in most desperate need of warm clothing, and in addition to items like coats and boots, UC students provide all of the children with at least one toy to unwrap.
Ms. Scutieri said coordinating the Christmas Drive is very rewarding and offers another great example of Union Catholic’s community coming together.
“We are helping our outside community, but we are also working together as a community of students and faculty to accomplish a goal,” said Ms. Scutieri. “We get thank you cards back from families, and it is always nice to see that it really meant something to them and gave them the opportunity to have a happy holiday with their families. It’s a lot of work and it’s also a lot of fun. The students really enjoy themselves.”
UC students Katherine Petrick and Lauren Sloane worked alongside many students to help facilitate the Christmas Drive and ensure the success of this tradition.
“I enjoy helping with the Christmas Drive every year because I believe giving back to the community is important,” said Petrick. “Giving to others helps us to be more humble and appreciative of what we have in life, and it is important that everyone gets a gift this Christmas because it shows that we care about all people in all places.”
Lauren Sloane highlighted the importance of taking care of children on Christmas.
“I think the Christmas Drive gives people hope that someone is out there trying to help them, even if it is just in the form of a jacket or a pair of boots,” said Sloane. “I think it’s especially important for kids to receive presents because it keeps the magic of Santa Claus and Christmas alive.”