'Tis the Season - The Norwich community reaches out to those in need

Capen, Frey, and Weber collect for charity
CDT 1LT Jon Capen '05, RCT Jennifer Frey '08 and RCT Michael Weber, all of ECHO Company, load bags of clothing donations into Capen's truck for delivery to Community Emergency Relief Volunteers (CERV), located in Northfield.

Food and Clothing Drive

Norwich senior Jon Capen knows the meaning of service. Last year, the Business Administration major from Peru, New York, completed 300 hours of community service as an Americorps volunteer. This year, he is spearheading the University's annual holiday food and clothing drive. It's no small job. Every day between Thanksgiving and Winter Break, Capen and his fellow Echo Company volunteers pick up donated items that Norwich community members have left in the festively decorated boxes distributed around campus, and bring them to his room in Wilson Hall. When Capen has a truckload full, he loads up the back of his white Ford Explorer and delivers the clothes to CERV (Community Emergency Relief Volunteers), located in Northfield. Since November 22, Capen has delivered three truckloads of canned and non-perishable food and clean, used clothing to CERV's headquarters.

"The response from the community has been great," said Capen. "The boxes in Jackman Hall are filled to overflowing every day."

Angel tree and Caring Cans
Sodexho employee Eve Therrien of Northfield stands beside the Angel Tree in the Norwich University dining facility. "Cans for Caring" donations are in the foreground.

Angel Tree

The food and clothing drive is only one Norwich tradition that benefits needy Northfield residents during the holiday season. Another is the annual Angel Tree. Set up in the campus dining facility in Harmon Hall, the tree features 30 "angel cards," each describing the age, gender, size and needs of a Northfield child. According to Director of Volunteer Programs Nicole DiDomenico, this program has always prompted a good response from Norwich students, faculty and staff.

"Last year, no angel request went unanswered, and we are expecting the same turnout this year," DiDomenico said.

Caring Cans

New this year, Sodexho Food Services, who prepares and serves roughly 3,000 meals a day to the Norwich community, initiated "Caring Cans," an incentive-based food drive of its own. From December 6-14, faculty and staff members were offered a free meal in exchange for a non-perishable food item.

"We felt obligated to do our part to help augment the University's efforts," said Paul Bento, general manager for Sodexho Campus Services. "We think it's a pretty good deal."

On December 15, Sodexho delivered close to 500 pounds of food to CERV for their food shelf.

Beth Truell and student
Nursing major Beth Truell volunteers one-on-one with a student at the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center during the 2004 winter break.

Alternative Break Programs

Soon, Norwich University's students will be finishing up their exams and heading home for a well-earned vacation, but for some, the giving won't stop there. According to DiDomenico, seven students have volunteered to spend the last week of their winter break at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, New Hampshire. The Center provides schooling, medical assistance, rehabilitation and residence for children with disabilities and adults with traumatic brain injuries. According to DiDomenico, this will be Norwich's third year back at the Mountain as part of NU VISIONS: Norwich University's Alternative Break Program.

"This has become one of our most popular volunteer programs," said DiDomenco. "It's an intense, educational experience for our students to work so closely with these individuals in school, residential and hospital settings. They come back profoundly changed by the experience."

"Selfless service to others is one of the University's guiding values," said Norwich President Richard W. Schneider. "That so many of our students take this tenet to heart is truly awe-inspiring."

dweggler@norwich.edu, December 2004

What's New | 2004 News Archive