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Exeter Volunteers in the Holiday Spirit

December 29, 2013
Students pack up newly assembled surgi-dolls destined for children in hospitals.

Students pack up newly assembled surgi-dolls destined for children in hospitals.

Just before the holiday break, students, faculty and staff joined together for 3 volunteer events to assemble goods destined for families in need. This year, Exeter’s Holiday Non Sibi events are a way for the Exeter community to join together while volunteering their time to charitable organizations by creating handmade cards and “surgi-dolls.” Child Life specialists use the dolls to provide therapy for young patients in hospitals. The annual events are sponsored by the Community Connections Group (CCG) and Exeter Student Service Organization (ESSO).

In addition, bulk food donations headed to local pantries – St. Vincent de Paul and Seacoast Family Food Pantry – serving Exeter, Portsmouth and Kingston, NH. 3,936 food and household items were purchased from Market Basket Supermarkets, including chicken noodle soup, carrots, peas, laundry detergent, toilet paper, vegetable oil, grape jelly, ketchup and toothpaste.

“This delivery is wonderful! It can be used for the next two months, which is great because we don’t get as many donations in the dead of winter. We really appreciate getting this one,” said Herb Salls from St. Vincent de Paul. Seacoast Family Food Pantry Director Margie Parker added, “Thank you for such a thoughtful, generous donation. It is community members such as PEA that help sustain our agency!”

Food supplier Sysco Corp. donated 1,608 food items, including tomato soup, vegetable soup, chicken noodle soup, corn, peas and instant oatmeal.

And ESSO sponsored a wide range of seasonal activities and events that appealed to young and old alike:

Just before break, over 100 student carolers visited the home of a local child who has cancer. Community Service Coordinator Laurie Loosigian said, "They came with Santa hats along with all kinds of caroling gear and bells, and the students just kept coming. Some brought gifts as well."

December 3: ESSO Music for Life volunteers performed at the Exeter Historical Society’s Holiday Open House.

December 8: Santa Claus visited, carols were sung, and cookies were decorated at the ESSO Best Buddies/Chain of Friends’ meeting.

December 11: ESSO Music for Life students played holiday music for residents at Rockingham County Nursing Home and RiverWoods.

December 11: “Gift!” At the Lamont Gallery event, people made holiday cards for ESSO Support the Troops; ESSO Empty Bowls Project sold ceramic bowls to benefit Cross Roads House, and the Fair Trade Club sold items to benefit the gallery’s charities.

ESSO Exeter MicroCredit Club had a candygram sale this week to support their club’s microloan program.

ESSO is sponsoring a food drive to benefit the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Exeter food bank. Collection boxes are located in the Agora (Phelps Academy Center), J Smith, Facilities, Gilman House, Data Center (ITS), Academy Library, Phillips Church, Harris Family Children’s Center and both dining halls. Items requested include: soups and stews, SpaghettiOs, pasta sauces, potato flakes, coffee, cereals, laundry soap, “meal helpers” and paper products of all kinds.

December 14: PEA students dressed as Santa’s elves and wrote responses to 30 letters from area children written to Santa Claus through the town of Exeter’s Parks and Recreation Department.

December 15: ESSO Kids Create had a gingerbread-decorating party for the children.

December 18: A chaperoned group of students shopped and then wrapped gifts for 2 families (8 children) that ESSO “adopted” from the town of Exeter’s Human Services Department.

Another group of students – along with faculty – purchased and wrapped gifts for families involved with the adult education program in Exeter.

December 18: Students also volunteered at the Salvation Army Meal Center to cook and serve a meal.

Exeter’s College Counseling Office prepared 2 food baskets for local families involved with the adult education program.