Faculty and students of the Mercyhurst University Education Department loaded their personal vehicles with more than 200 toys this morning and set forth for the Kids Café, 310 E. 10th St., to deliver the fruits of their annual holiday initiative, The Giving Tree.
In the past few weeks, the education department accumulated 230 donated gifts for needy children, ages 6 through 15, who visit the Kids Café, a soup kitchen for at-risk children sponsored by Emmaus Ministries and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania. This year’s gift total represents an increase of 70 over the preceding year.
A heightened awareness among Mercyhurst employees and students to the plight of poor children in Erie combined with a genuine increase in this particular demographic combined to make this year’s Giving Tree project so successful, noted Leanne Roberts, Ph.D., associate dean of education.
“I couldn’t believe the gifts that were coming in,” she said. “They covered our conference room table and spilled over to the floor.”
Roberts said the education department’s Carpe Diem Academy, an extended-day program supporting K-2 pupils at four inner-city Erie schools, has made the plight of needy children top of mind for many Mercyhurst students.
“There are more children in need this year and I think our students are aware of that, especially through the Carpe Diem Academy,” Roberts said. “They know how much assistance these families could use and how appreciative they are for support, especially at this time of year.”
Roberts expressed thanks to all who contributed to this year’s Giving Tree, which was organized by education department graduate assistant Julie Thompson.