The Spirit of Giving Campaign finances our Student Emergency Food Fund.
Peter Côté, of Campus Ministry, reports that over the past two years, requests for help from students in financial crisis have grown to more than $25,000 a year.
"We see hundreds of students," Côté said. "For many, the support we are able to give means the difference between a student failing or dropping out, and the peace of mind needed to carry on and succeed academically."
The need intensifies as winter draws on and the more fortunate among us look for a way to exercise some seasonal charity. Campus Ministry welcomes donations from individuals and also encourages departments to raise funds for Concordia students.
"Some departments put on small-scale raffles, or pass the hat at their holiday parties, or take up collections," Côté said. "All this goes to support students with the most elemental of needs. It is alarming to realize that many of our students find themselves at one point or another unable to feed themselves or their families."
Donations by cheque can be made out to Concordia University Student Emergency Food Fund, and mailed to Campus Ministry at Loyola, WF Annex. Tax receipts will be issued for donations of $10 or more.
For 10 years now, Lise Tavares (Information Services) has been the moving spirit behind a food drive that benefits several Montreal shelters for the indigent.
"In the first year, we collected four boxes of non-perishables and toiletries for Benedict Labre House," Tavares recalled recently. "The second year, we fared a bit better, and again the beneficiary was Benedict Labre House.
"In our third or fourth year, Kathleen O'Connell asked if the Psychology Department in the PY annex at Loyola could join forces with us. Naturally, we said Yes, yes yes! From then on, we started collecting for Benedict Labre House, which is for men, and La Maison Chez Doris, which is for women. They depend solely on the generosity of donors to survive.
"Until last year, all the donations were stored in my tiny office until delivery day -- ouffff -- and deliveries were made courtesy of our police officer friends at Station 25.
"Last year, Pat Pietromonaco, Manager of Distribution Services, asked if his department could join our efforts. They provided much-needed storage space, picked up all the donations from Loyola, helped me sort, divide and box all the food, and then his team of good guys handled the delivery of the 24 boxes of non-perishables we collected between the two campuses.
"Transportation Services has offered to pick up donations from offices around the campus. And again this year, we will also accept money and cheques for Campus Ministry to stock the students' food bank."
Donations should be of non-perishable food and of much-needed toiletries, including toilet paper, toothpaste and toothbrushes, and soap for laundry and dishes. The deadline is Thursday, December 16.
Drop-off points are Information Services, in the lobby of the Henry F. Hall Building, and the Psychology Department, on the Loyola Campus. Donations can also be dropped off at Room 215, Bishop Court, until December 15.
Tavares concluded, "The continued success of this drive is all due to the generosity of our wonderful Concordia community."
Photo: Ron Garbacz (Distribution Services), standing in for manager Pat Pietromonaco, Lise Tavares (Information Services) and Kathleen O'Connell (Psychology), who co-ordinates the Food Drive at Loyola.