To help Hurricane Sandy victims recover from the destruction, the University of Dayton Campus Ministry is currently working on “The UD Sandy Claus Project.”
This project is not accepting money, but rather Christmas gifts like clothes, gift cards, Christmas cards and other items to help the hurricane victims around the holidays.
“The university community has a very strong connection with folks from the East Coast,” said Nick Cardilino, the associate director for Campus Ministry. “Many of our students come from New York and New Jersey, and we knew that many want to help out those who have been affected by Sandy.”
According to Cardilino, Campus Ministry received a call from an alumnus from New Jersey whose friend was helping the victims, and wanted to distributing Christmas gifts to them. Campus Ministry became involved because they knew the UD community would feel called to help, Cardilino said.
“The first weekend after Hurricane Sandy hit, I visited my home state of New Jersey and found more destruction and devastation that I could have possibly imagined from watching the news,” said Jim Sylvester, president of Pax Christi. “People who were already having a hard time financially have been affected the most.”
Pax Christi is an international organization that seeks to promote peace and justice throughout the world, Sylvester said.
Sylvester, along with other members of Pax Christi, organize a gift donation drive each Christmas season called “Giving Tree.”
This year, the Giving Tree project was used as a way to ease hurricane victims’ lives, Sylvester said. The gifts donated will be given to the Sandy Claus project, according to Sylvester.
“[The donation from Pax Christi] first will provide them [the people of New Jersey] with items that they need to make this Christmas season as normal as possible,” Sylvester said. “Second, it will show these people that the UD community is thinking about and praying for them.”
The gifts collected will be sent to a woman in Hazlet, N.J. who has been driving several miles each day to help those on the coast, according to Cardilino. If UD collects more than she can distribute, local churches on the Jersey shore will receive the gifts, he said.
“In addition to donating gifts for this drive, we’re encouraging the UD community to continue donating money to the Sandy relief efforts,” Cardilino said. “Donations are encouraged especially through Catholic charities because they know how to help best.”
UD is looking for a way for students to volunteer in severely damaged areas, but has been unsuccessful in finding an organization that takes volunteers from out of town, Cardilino said.
“Our people on the ground there are still saying that the best thing we can do is donate cash to relief organizations or send Christmas gifts,” Cardilino said. “[This is why] we’re doing it through the UD Sandy Claus project.”