For the thirteenth year, dedicated volunteers from Salus and Culinart Café staff will wake up early on Thanksgiving Day to cook and deliver holiday meals to local police departments and the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society in Cheltenham, Pa.
Originally launched in 2005 by Esther Colón, bursar, and another colleague, the meals come with all the expected trimmings, including dessert. “We wanted to give back to our community, and we decided to start with the Cheltenham Police Department, which has over 30 officers on duty on Thanksgiving Day,” Colón said.
It wasn’t long before they expanded to include the Jenkintown Police Department. In 2012, they expanded again to include the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society. The Hope Lodge offers free lodging to those undergoing cancer treatments not available in their own hometowns.
As the service has grown, so has the amount of volunteers. They help in all areas including preparing, cooking, and serving the meals. Others are needed to clean up the kitchen, pack up the utensils, organize and load the food in the vans, and set up locations for the delivery.
A few of the recurring volunteers are David Wisher and Dr. Lawrence McClure, who are both retired; Don Kates, chief financial officer; Gary Hughes, director of Safety and Security; Patricia Burke, assistant registrar; Kerri Dougherty, Safety and Security administrative assistant; Kevin McClure ‘19OD; Chrystyna Colón; Emily Mittelman ‘20OT; and Dr. Michael Mittelman, president.
“The best thing about our service is that everyone comes together with a smile and ready to do anything that has to get done,” Colón said. “We have a duty to serve our community in any way we can, so on Thanksgiving Day a few of our Salus colleagues and their families come together to do just that – to serve our community.”
But for the University, the Thanksgiving spirit doesn’t stop there.
The National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) ran a food drive to help local families enjoy a holiday dinner too. Students, faculty, and staff were asked to bring certain items according to the first letter of their last name, so items received are distributed evenly.
And, the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) is holding a coat drive for Willie Ross School of the Deaf, located in Longmeadow, Mass., through December 1. The group asks for gently used or new coats and winter accessories and the box for collection is in the lobby near the security desk.
These acts of kindness only are a few of the philanthropic deeds that Salus participates in – fulfilling one of the purposes of the institution: make a difference in the lives of people.