A Trocaire Holiday Tradition: Giving to Others

The Trocaire community is always a big-hearted one—after all, mercy and “meeting the unmet need” are some of our founding values. But at Christmastime, the generous nature of our staff, faculty and students shine through even brighter than usual.

Harvest House Clothing Drive

Harvest House, one of Trocaire’s service learning community partners, is a Buffalo non-profit with a mission to “strengthen the body and soul of our community by fostering moral values in a culturally sensitive atmosphere that promotes dignity and spirituality.”

At its two locations—one on Seneca Street and one on Jefferson Avenue—it provides a variety of services for the Queen City’s most vulnerable residents, including legal adviceretreat and spiritual programshealthcare serviceseducation and vocational training, and a baby and children’s ministry.

Two fourth-semester Trocaire nursing students, Torie Bonnet and Kristine Fox, volunteered at the Harvest House’s Baby and Children’s Ministry earlier this year to complete the 16 hours of service learning required by Trocaire’s Registered Nursing program. The ministry serves more than 5,800 Buffalo-area children in need every year. Caregivers are able to “shop” (free of charge) for items like clothing, safe cribs, car seats, strollers, toys, books, pajamas, and more.

“Though it is only 16 hours out of the semester for each of us, it is 16 hours multiplied each time a student offers their time there,” Torie said. “It is 16 hours dedicated to putting coats and boots on children in the harsh Buffalo winters, or bathing suits on them in the summer, so they can enjoy simply being a kid. It’s 16 hours towards a little peace of mind for those parents struggling to do the best for their children.”

Their experiences so inspired them that they both decided to continue volunteering after their requirement was fulfilled.

With the help of Trocaire’s Office of Service Learning, Torie and Clothing Pic 2Kristine organized a clothing and supply drive for the Baby & Children’s Ministry that ran throughout the month of November. Donations poured in, and in early December, Trocaire made a delivery to Harvest House.

Coordinator of Service Learning Pam Jablonicky said she is looking forward to making similar drives an annual effort.

“Torie and Kristine are examples of how much of a difference we can all make through service to others,” Jablonicky said. “Through their efforts, Trocaire was able to donate dozens of bags of desperately needed supplies and clothing to those in Buffalo who need it most.”

Extending a Hand to Our Own

Other recent projects gathered support for members of members of Trocaire’s own family.

Practical nursing student Lauren Hamm recently took a leave of absence from her studies to care for her husband when he was Benefit 1diagnosed with Stage 4 adenocarcinoma lung cancer.

Lauren’s classmates—led by Kristen Baker, Tim Barr, Christine Wainwright and Kiersten Pukalo—wanted to help. They organized a basket raffle and pizza sale that ran in the college Commons for two days in early December.

Thanks to the students’ hard work and the rest of the Trocaire community’s support, the sale and raffle raised $620. All proceeds were given to Lauren and her husband to assist with their medical expenses.

In addition, Trocaire again ran its annual Giving Tree this year. Students who needed a helping hand to provide Christmas magic for their children could submit gift requests, and angel ornaments Giving tree 2were then placed on a Christmas tree displayed in a common area, each one representing one of the anonymous requests.

Members of the campus community picked an ornament or two, bought the presents and then returned the wrapped gift for distribution just in time for Christmas.

“We were able to bring a bit of Christmas delight to 74 children of our students through the Giving Tree!” Jablonicky said in an email to staff and faculty. “The Mercy spirit of helping those who need help, especially during this Christmas season, has once again been shown by our Trocaire family.”