While most college students were sound asleep Tuesday morning, Justin Crawford woke up early to volunteer at Community Missions of Niagara Frontier. By 6:15 a.m., the Niagara University junior and several of his peers were clad in hairnets and gloves, cooking breakfast for guests of the Niagara Falls-based nonprofit, which serves homeless individuals and families.
"Regardless of their background or current situation, those who are less fortunate deserve our help, our attention and our support, a Vincentian value I believe will be instilled in me forever," said Crawford, who regularly performs community service at Community Missions as one of NU's Vincentian Scholars. "Giving Tuesday presents a great opportunity to acknowledge the importance of giving the time, money and other resources we may have to those who need it most."
John Callahan, a sophomore communication studies major at Niagara, arrived even earlier than Crawford, getting to Community Missions at 5:30 a.m. to assist staff with media coverage of the event. He, Crawford and fellow NU students Reilley Larkin, Michael Pearl, Sunny Pechulis and Jacob Tucker then prepared eggs, pancakes and sausage, and served guests.
"I chose to help today because it's rewarding," Callahan said. "It feels good to help others who truly need it. It's one thing to donate money or clothes, but when you donate time, you truly get to see how your efforts make a positive impact on other people's lives."
Lending a hand at Community Missions was one of the many initiatives that NU students, alumni, faculty and staff were involved with as part of Giving Tuesday. #GivingTuesday, now in its sixth year, is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. The national program is meant to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support, and help create a better world.
Niagara's IMPACT/ReNU and Alumni Engagement offices, as well as the newly formed LeadershipNU student group, coordinated the collection at 15 on-campus locations of more than 300 food and nonperishable good items for needy families. The proceeds from Niagara's efforts were distributed to Community Missions and the Heart, Love & Soul food pantry and dining room in Niagara Falls.
"Giving Tuesday is an excellent representation of Niagara University's Catholic and Vincentian mission to make a collective impact in our local, national and global communities," said Patti Wrobel, executive director of the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement, which oversees the university's IMPACT program. "By harnessing the power of collaboration, we have the ability to give of ourselves to bring resources, nourishment, hope and care to our neighbors who are living on the margins of society."