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The Gift to Give

NCC family brings together donations for holiday bazaar across all locations

Mia Rossi,

Do you hear that? I think it's the sound of elves at work. These elves come in the form of NCC staff and volunteers who have helped with a long standing tradition for over a decade at NCC...the Holiday Bazaar.

 More than ten years ago, a small group of staff and faculty that became the Community Service Committee came up with the idea to collect donations so that students could pick a new or gently used gifts to give to loved ones. The idea came during a recession, when it was especially tough on students to afford gifts during the holidays. The committee felt this was something NCC could do to help brighten the lives of students and their families. Items are donated by faculty and staff, and former staff still donate as well as relatives of faculty, staff and friends.  

"Each year we hear stories of students who would have nothing to give their children for the holidays if it wasn't for the bazaar, and many students say they wouldn't have gifts for their family members," says Rebecca Reddin, an organizer for the bazaar and administrative assistant in Academic Affairs.  

At Bethlehem Campus, Bangor Area School District partners with NCC each year to help with the bazaar. Several sixth graders come to campus to help staff and volunteers organize the day before the big opening. Monroe campus had their third annual event since their committee formed in 2014. At both events, items such as jewelry, books, DVDs, candles, stuffed animals and toys were "sold." At the start of the bazaar in Bethlehem this year, 50 students came to pick out gifts within the first fifteen minutes. And, on Monroe campus, there was a rush of students coming in to the bazaar until around 1pm.    

"Some students may have found themselves suddenly out of work right before the break and come to the bazaar to find gifts for their families or friends.  Everyone who shops expresses their deep gratitude and can't believe it's free," says Reddin.  

Along with their student bazaar, Fowler Family Southside Center started the NCC Future Student Holiday Bazaar two years ago. Jennifer Kszak, one of the organizers for the bazaar at Fowler and program manager in Community Education says that, "the need at Fowler is different from our other two campuses. Our need is more of a community need. We brainstormed on what we could do to help the community, and since it's the holiday season, the kids of course were our first choice." So, in coordination with the Cops 'N Kids program, Holy Infancy School K-3 students come to Fowler to pick out gifts.  

The children at Fowler choose a gift, wrap it and make a card, and then, they are allowed to select items for themselves. Gail Mrowinski, associate dean of Community Education, read "Twas the Night before Christmas" to the children. This year, Marlene Lakey, secretary in Community Education, crocheted 75 scarfs for these students, and each child could pick a pair of socks and a scarf for themselves. 

The Fab Lab made ornaments for the kids to decorate and take home along with a goodie bag. The kids get personalized attention from NCC dental students at Fowler who take groups of students and usher them through their stations. "This bazaar is based on the community service motto that community is our middle name.  It also allows them to enter the building and start learning more about NCC," Kszak notes.  

Reddin says warmly, "These holiday bazaars are a great example of the heart that is NCC. The Community Service Committee, along with our faculty and staff volunteers, are very thankful that we are the ones who receive the best gift of all...serving our students with the bonus of giving your hearts away to them through generous donations."