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Find out what Colby-Sawyer alumni have been up to since graduation.

Currents: lending a hand

Lending a Hand: Colby-Sawyer Gives Back to the Community

Piles of dirty dishes, utensils stuffed in odd drawers by visiting relatives, a too-hot kitchen from cooking a celebratory meal … these are the hallmarks of the holiday aftermath. While some complain about cleaning up the remnants of a feast, however, other families face the prospect of having no food at all for the holidays.

Such families were the focus of Colby-Sawyer's Community Service Club this fall as its members organized the third successful Take a Hand, Lend a Hand food drive with the theme “From Our Family to Yours.” Through the club's efforts, more than 90 baskets of food containing all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner – and a few fun extras like games, puzzles, candles and stationary – were collected and distributed to households in Claremont, Manchester and Danbury.

On Nov. 19, the Colby-Sawyer community gathered around the collected trays, bags, baskets, boxes and crates of goodies in Wheeler Hall to celebrate the giving spirit on display.

“I'm sure all the families will enjoy and appreciate the love and warmth placed into each and every basket,” said Community Service Club Co-President and Program Coordinator Aleisha Carlsen '08. “During this holiday season, cherish your family, friends, professors and everything that makes Colby-Sawyer an amazing experience. I also encourage you to think about all the lives you have touched by participating in this event. Every one of us can enjoy Thanksgiving a little more knowing we have made a difference.”

After a performance on a Tibetan singing bowl by Tom Wilkins, a mental health counselor in the Baird Health Center, Colby-Sawyer President Tom Galligan spoke.

“This is a big day for Colby-Sawyer,” said President Galligan. “Here, right now, you are making a huge difference in people's lives. Our community is reaching out to help those in neighboring communities, thanks to the efforts of the Community Service Club and those who donated Thanksgiving trappings to those who find themselves in a place and a time where they can use them. And look at all the baskets! Through our giving, we can hopefully make lives better. I am thankful to be associated with generous, motivated, concerned people like you all.”

Deb Coffin, a three-year board member of Habitat for Humanity of the Kearsarge/Sunapee Area, detailed the partnership between the college and the nonprofit that builds affordable housing for people in need - just recently, Colby-Sawyer students helped roof a home in nearby Springfield. In the last 20 years, the group has built homes for 17 families, and 13 of them benefited this year from the Lend a Hand, Take a Hand program.

“It's easy to lose sight that we're fortunate to live in a very nice community,” said Coffin, “but we do have struggling families, and Habitat is able to put those families in homes like they've never known before. We couldn't do that without the help of every person in this room. These families struggle - our economy has not helped, they lose jobs - and they are so, so grateful for the effort you all contribute to a very special day. So thank you.”

Kristine Macagba, resident director of Rooke Hall, shared a glimpse of her family's typical Thanksgiving Day, contrasting it with what the families receiving the baskets of food would have experienced without the action of Colby-Sawyer students, faculty and staff.

Tom Wilkins prefaced his second performance, a Native American giving song accompanied by drum, by saying, “One thing I've learned in my life is that Thanksgiving is a way to live.”

“Thank you for this breath of life…the twisting path of this rainbow road, for shadows and clouds and silent rains,” he sang.

The heart-beat of the drum echoed the giving heart of Colby-Sawyer's people, getting stronger every year and helping families near and far from campus. Thanking her Co-Presidents John Bryan '08 and Ashlee Willis '08 for their support, Carlsen reminded everyone that she is graduating this spring and it is up to others to carry on the project she began as a student.

“Every year it just gets better,” said LuAnne Ryall, advisor to the Community Service Club and assistant director of career development. “I can't wait to see how many baskets we collect next year.”

-Kate Dunlop Seamans