Thanksgiving Adopt-a-Family drives students to volunteer


Marywood’s Thanksgiving Adopt-A-Family program assists local families in need and ensures that they have a holiday meal to share with their loved ones. Photo courtesy of the Marywood University Facebook page

Erin Yeager

Though most Marywood students are looking forward to juicy turkey, warm potatoes and sweet cranberry sauce over Thanksgiving break, Campus Ministry reminds them that there are regional families who are unsure if they will be eating Thanksgiving dinner at all.

Campus Ministry partnered with the United Neighborhood Centers (UNC) for the annual Thanksgiving Adopt-a-Family project, which aims to help families in northeast Pennsylvania who are in need during the holiday season.

The UNC is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the NEPA region. The agency’s purpose is to “meet the needs of local low-income families, seniors, and youth,” according to

Marywood students, faculty and staff were invited to sign up either individually or as a group to sponsor a family. Volunteers assembled the baskets and delivered them to families on Saturday, Nov. 17.

If students were unable to participate or volunteer in the packing and delivering process, Campus Ministry encouraged everyone to make a monetary donation to fund the Thanksgiving food baskets.

Items in the baskets included a variety of vegetables, a turkey, cranberry sauce and desserts. However, volunteers were encouraged to include more if they wished.

In addition to the UNC, Campus Ministry raised money through multiple fundraisers to buy the needed groceries from the local grocery store, Wegmans.

Sr. John Michele Southwick, IHM, assistant director of Campus Ministry, explained how much of an impact Adopt-a-Family makes.

“It’s all worth it when you deliver the baskets and see the looks on their faces,” Southwick said. “The Marywood community makes such a huge impact on families across the region.”

Volunteering doesn’t stop after the holidays, though.

According to Volunteers In Action (VIA) Secretary Angelina Balestino, students have numerous opportunities to volunteer throughout the community.

“One of the ongoing volunteer opportunities we have on campus is Big Friends, Little Friends, a club that mentors and provides homework assistance for kids in the community,” Balestino said.

Balestino also mentioned other volunteer organizations, such as the St. Joseph’s Center Baby Pantry and the Food Recovery Network.

According to Balestino, the goal of Thanksgiving Adopt-A-Family is more than just providing families with dinner.

“Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks and sharing our blessings with those less fortunate,” Balestino said. “We hope to accomplish this same mission by packaging and delivering baskets of food for families to celebrate the holiday meal together.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities through Campus Ministry, contact [email protected].

Contact the writer: [email protected]