WPI Shows Holiday Spirit With Local Community

Staff, students prepare to donate gifts to Worcester’s less fortunate children, services to charities
Media Contact
December 05, 2006

WORCESTER, Mass. -  Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) faculty, staff, and students will celebrate the holidays by giving gifts to city children, and contributing to charitable organizations that serve Worcester residents.


At 1 p.m., Friday, Dec. 8, WPI students will donate presents to children at the Friendly House community center, located at 36 Wall St., in Worcester. From 1:30 to 3 p.m. that day, a ceremony at Friendly House will spotlight the relationship the center has with WPI via Exploradreams (formerly Hoop Dreams), a mentoring program for youth at Friendly House; the upgrading of the Friendly House computer labs by WPI students and faculty members; and a new robotics-based mentoring program, RoboKids. Friendly House will also honor WPI faculty, staff, and students for these contributions to the community center.

Before the ceremony starts, gifts will be dropped off by WPI Office of Student Activities volunteers and staff members through a program called the “Spirit of Giving Tree.” The wrapped presents will include toys and clothing. Last year, the WPI community “adopted” approximately 93 children; this year’s total exceeds 100. This is the fifth year the university will donate gifts to Friendly House.

“WPI has had a strong connection with Friendly House for many years, and the WPI community has always been willing to lend a helping hand whenever possible. The holiday time is no exception,” said Erin Ahearn, WPI graduate assistant for community service and student activities. “At times like this, it is amazing to see how caring and generous so many members of the WPI community are, and how quickly they volunteer to do whatever it takes to make the holiday season brighter for struggling families.”


On Thursday, Dec. 14, the WPI Office of Women’s Programs will sponsor a university luncheon where donations will be collected for Abby’s House, a women’s shelter in Worcester.


WPI’s United Way Campaign concluded its fund-raiser on Friday, Dec. 1. United Way dollars are at work every day through day care centers, meal programs, safe and structured activities for children, home health aides, disaster relief, and counseling services. The money raised helps the people most in need who are close to home.

In early November, WPI Software Applications Instructor Debra Dexter, a member of the United Way Committee, witnessed how the United Way impacts Worcester residents.

“I heard WPI Basketball Coach Chris Bartley explain his involvement on the board of the Big Brother/Big Sister Organization of Central Massachusetts. I listened to a WPI student speak about his experience as a Big Brother through WPI’s basketball team,” Dexter says. “I heard a mother talk about her deep-felt gratitude for her son’s Big Brother while her husband battles cancer. These are the people you pass every day as you go about your business at WPI. I feel a sense of pride about our WPI community and all that we do for one another, our families, our friends, and for those less fortunate.”


The WPI chapter of Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a fraternity dedicated to community service, held its annual on-campus Service Auction on Saturday, Dec. 2. Members of the WPI community were asked to donate or buy a service such as plane rides, sand castle-building lessons, personalized theme songs, baked goods, knitted scarves, and tutoring. Proceeds from the auction went to a charity chosen by the person whose donation raised the most money. A silent auction was also held.