By Hussein Ali Rifath
Thanksgiving marked the start of this year’s holiday season, and Adelphi chose to celebrate it by giving back to the community. In a joint effort by the Panther Pantry and student volunteers, the university supported families in need by offering them side dishes to complete their Thanksgiving meals, free of charge.
Michael Hoffner, the coordinator of Adelphi’s Interfaith Center and Panther Pantry, noted a key issue that drove the initiative. “People are carrying a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety–students, families and other community members–and one thing that Adelphi is deeply committed to is not just focusing on academic success but also making sure that peoples’ wellbeing is nurtured.”
This effort strove to serve all members of our community: anyone who registered online to receive a Thanksgiving meal kit from the university was accommodated based on their family size.
The meal kits included much of what we find in traditional Thanksgiving meals: stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, string beans, carrots and pumpkin pie. They were received by pick-up the four weekdays preceding the start of the university’s Thanksgiving recess.
The initiative made significant reach: 58 families registered to receive a meal kit, with a total family size of over 250 people. The large number of families requesting meal kits served as evidence to Hoffner that the local community had a need for this kind of assistance. “We were able to meet that need, and that’s a beautiful thing,” he said.
He added that he saw societal implications for the initiative’s success. “Seeing different groups and people volunteer and helping be there to create and give out the meal kits was inspiring, and a great reminder that we’re part of a caring community that wants to make sure that those who are part of it know they belong and know that they are not alone. That is inspiring to be a part of.”
Another way Adelphi works to improve belonging is through its student-run organizations. Catholic Newman Club, the Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship, Chabad, Hillel, Sikhs United, the Hindu Student Association, and the Muslim Student Association have all provided a network for students to practice their faith, engage in fellowship and celebrate religious holidays. These organizations help make Adelphi feel like home for many.
The university has made several religious observations in the previous weeks to celebrate the holiday season. In recognition of the Catholic observance of Advent, masses held in the University Center (UC) Chapel shifted the focus of readings. On Dec. 1, Hillel had a pre-Chanukah lunch at the University Center Chapel (UC Room 302). On Dec. 7, the Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship hosted a Christmas karaoke at the UC Chapel and the Chabad Jewish Student Group hosted a pre-Chanukah party in UC Rooms 113-115. On Dec. 8, the Center for Student and Community Engagement hosted its Found Family Holiday Party for all students to celebrate the holiday season.
The Garden City campus has seen signs of these holiday festivities. On Dec. 1, the university set up holiday lights on the flagpole lawn. Soon afterward, a Christmas tree, a menorah (to recognize Chanukah) and a kinara (to recognize Kwanzaa) were lit in the University Center.