Drexel’s Annual Holiday Charity Drives Benefit Communities Near and Far

The Dragons who volunteered at Drexel's 46th Alumni Turkey Project.
The Dragons who volunteered at Drexel's 46th Alumni Turkey Project.

One of Drexel University’s beloved annual traditions is to hold charity drives at the end of each calendar year to benefit communities both near and far during the holiday season. This year, Drexel faculty, staff, students and alumni hosted and donated to drives gathering toys, holiday meals and care packages that were ultimately distributed to local community organizations, Philadelphia families and active military stationed overseas.

Here’s what was collected, boxed up and distributed on campus this month:

2019 Annual Holiday Toy Drive

The Office of Government and Community Relations held its 23rd Annual Holiday Toy Drive, which ultimately donated over 5,000 toys to 70 community organizations at a special event — with Santa Claus! — on Dec. 18.

The toys were donated by Dragons, and faculty, staff and students helped organize and pack bags full of those toys on Dec. 13. Representatives from local homeless shelters, social service agencies, youth centers and other Philadelphia organizations picked up the bags on Dec. 18 to distribute the toys to children for the holidays and “bring some real joy and happiness to these deserving little kids,” as President John Fry said at the distribution event.

“It’s always a happy day when we can bring out these toys and introduce you to Santa,” he added, before calling out Santa Claus to help deliver bags of toys to the community members.

46th Annual Alumni Turkey Project

The University’s longest-running alumni tradition hosted by Drexel Alumni produces holiday meals for community residents. Drexel Alumni collaborated with the Drexel Fund to raise over $70,000 this year (a new record!) to provide 2,000 turkeys and 13,000 non-perishable food items (double the amount from last year) to more than 50 community partners, including Drexel’s community-facing organizations like the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. More than 100 volunteers worked on Dec. 12 to distribute those items and also wrote and decorated 500 cards for patients at St. Christopher’s. 

“We find great value in connecting our alumni to civic engagement opportunities,” said Janeile Johnson, BS ’10, MS ’13,  associate director of young alumni and student programs in the Office of Institutional Advancement. “We are grateful to provide meals to some of our local community partners who may be experiencing food insecurities and look forward to expanding this project to impact more communities.”

Drexel’s Annual Active Duty Care Package Drive

Drexel hosted its annual military care package drive on Dec. 6, boxing up 105 packages to send out to military members overseas. The care packages included handmade cards, certain packaged foods, toiletries and other items (a full list can be found here).

The Office of Veteran Student Services, Veterans Task Force, Department of Public Safety, Drexel University Athletics and Drexel Veterans Association organized the weeks-long drive and the community event Dec. 6 in which faculty, staff and students made the care packages to be sent to Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey, which will distribute them overseas.

“This annual event really brings the community together,” said Assistant Vice President of Student Life Rebecca Weidensaul, PhD. “And the people who appreciate this the most are the folks and veterans who know what it's like to get one of these boxes. When everyone comes together to do something like this, it’s so gratifying because it makes a difference for those military members who are actively engaged and missing their families and missing their holidays.”

Olivia McDonald, a third-year organizational management and marketing student in the LeBow College of Business who served in the Marine Corps for four years as a combat correspondent, helped at the Dec. 6 event for those very reasons.

“I was overseas for nine months and I missed pretty much every major holiday, and so around Christmas time we got packages like this and it was definitely a morale-boost,” she said. “Being on both sides — being in the military and receiving one package, and then being out and being a veteran and knowing these are going to those who basically replaced me — it’s an awesome feeling to see everyone come together and always supporting the troops. It’s nice when you’re there to know people have your back and are thinking of you on this side.”