In 2022, Drexel Continues Holiday Traditions of Giving Back

Several departments and teams recently held their longstanding events and drives to benefit local families and children as well as active-duty military stationed overseas.
A gift. Volunteers from the packing day for the Active-Duty Military Care Package Drive on Dec. 2. A large group of alumni and volunteers in front of the Drexel Recreation Center during the turkey distribution day on Dec. 19.
Volunteers from the packing day for the Active-Duty Military Care Package Drive on Dec. 2. inside of the Drexel Recreation Center. A large group of alumni and volunteers in front of the Drexel Recreation Center during the turkey distribution day on Dec. 19

At Drexel University, December means, among other traditions and events, holding and/or participating in the University’s deep-rooted, annual events to benefit those in need of a hot meal, a toy or a care package. Each year, several offices and departments host collection drives and volunteer events in which faculty, professional staff, students, alumni and friends of the University can participate through donations and volunteering their time. 

Here’s what was collected on campus this month and provided to families in Philadelphia and active-duty military stationed in the Middle East:

Drexel University Alumni Turkey Project

Drexel University’s longest-standing alumni charitable tradition, the Alumni Turkey Project, celebrated its 49th year by continuing to provide holiday meals to students and local families while breaking new records.

About 2,500 turkeys and 13,600 canned goods were collected thanks to donations from members of the Drexel community and distributed to more than 55 community partners serving the elderly, individuals struggling with food and housing insecurity, victims of domestic violence, individuals in transitional housing, and Philadelphians with HIV or AIDS. This was made by possible through donor and volunteer efforts and a recurring partnership with Sharing Excess, a Philadelphia-based food redistribution nonprofit founded at the University by Evan Ehlers ’19. 

Volunteers packing canned goods at the Sharing Excess event.
Volunteers packing canned goods at the Sharing Excess event.

Each donation of $35 gave a turkey dinner with side dishes to Philadelphians without access to a holiday meal. Ultimately, $102,322 was raised to make meals possible, thanks to the generosity of 1,140 members of the Drexel community, setting a new record for the Alumni Turkey Project. 

“It was a recording-breaking year for fundraising, volunteerism, and community partners served by the Turkey Project,” said Chair of the Alumni Board of Governors Corina Lam ’10. “Seeing so many alumni and friends come together to support this initiative is heartening. We hope to increase the impact of the Turkey Project next year as we begin our fifth decade of serving those in need.”

The turkeys were distributed on Dec. 17 to community organizations and the side dishes had been packed during a separate event on Dec. 10 with Sharing Excess, who also handled the distribution of those sides to the receiving groups. 169 Dragons volunteered at those two events. Earlier in the month, alumni attended a virtual event on Dec. 6 titled “Mutual Aid: Empowering Communities in Times of Crisis” to learn more about the power of mutual aid organizations.

During Giving Tuesday, a global day of generosity, members of the Drexel community donated a record-breaking $35,000 to support the University’s fight against hunger and food insecurity.  

In its 49 years, the Alumni Turkey Project has distributed more than 22,000 holiday meals to community organizations, individuals and families, some of which have partnered with Drexel Alumni for this annual tradition for more than a decade. Stay tuned to see what happens next year in honor of its big anniversary — and how you can get involved with the 50th Alumni Turkey Project in 2023.

More photos of the event can be found on Drexel Alumni’s Flickr page

Active-Duty Military Care Package Drive

Drexel’s Center for Military and Veterans Task Force and the Veterans Task Force once again held their annual Active-Duty Military Care Package Drive to collect donated items to send to those currently deployed. As in years past, Drexel partnered with Operation Yellow Ribbon to ship care packages to troops serving in the Middle East who may be missing their families and loved ones during the holiday season. 

This year, the donation drive ran from Nov. 11 to Dec. 2; Dragons could bring donated items to locations on campus for collection from Veterans Day up until Dec. 1. On Dec. 2, Dragons gathered in the Recreation Center Lobby to spend some time packaging the collected toiletries, books, socks, snacks and treats, and many more items, and also could write out homemade cards and notes. All in all, seven large shipping cartons were filled with care package items to be sent overseas. An additional eight personalized care packages were sent to volunteers’ family members and friends of the Drexel community also stationed abroad.

“The Center for Military and Veterans Services along with the Veterans Task Force at Drexel have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to this tradition,” said Assistant Vice President for Inter-College Advising & Center for Learning and Academic Success Services Rebecca Weidensaul, PhD. “We appreciate our service members’ sacrifices and their families who do not have the opportunity to spend the holidays together; this care package drive represents our institutional good will and we greatly appreciate the leadership of [Drexel Public Safety Police Accreditation Manager] Jane Kelly and the Department of Public Safety for leading this successful effort each year.” 

Drexel University’s 26th Annual Toy Drive 

The Office of the President and the Office of Government and Community Relations held the longstanding annual toy drive this year. As in years past, faculty, professional staff and students donated new and unwrapped toys, which the University collected to provide to over 50 community organizations.  

Collection boxes were stationed at Drexel campuses for Dragons to donate their items from Nov. 14 to Dec. 8. Afterwards, volunteers assembled the toys to be given to organizations including public housing developments, churches and ministries, homeless shelters, youth centers and more to then distribute to children for a holiday present.