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UAlbany Community Makes a World of Difference in Capital Region During Holiday Season and Year-Round

UAlbany students deliver a busload of gifts

UAlbany students delivered a busload of gifts to more than 200 children as part of the "Holiday Heroes" program at Parsons Child and Family Center in 2009. They will be "Holiday Heroes" again this year. (Photo Mark Schmidt) 

News Release icon Contact: Media Relations Office (518) 956-8150

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 23, 2010) --

The  University at Albany's Student Association (SA) is partnering with the Albany-based Center for Family and Youth to support at-risk children in the Capital Region, as part of a new initiative called SA Cares. Exemplifying UAlbany commitment to making a difference in the world around them, the initiative is just one of the many ways UAlbany students, faculty, staff and alumni devote their time and talent to serve citizens in the Capital Region and around the globe during the holidays and year round.

Through its partnership with the Center for Family and Youth, SA Cares will provide clothing, food and toys for at-risk children and families. The Center serves families throughout the Capital Region. SA Cares will be collecting donations across the campus and from local businesses. In the coming months, SA Cares has several additional projects planned.

"With a struggling economy and so many people simply trying to stay afloat, it has been an especially difficult year for families and children in need in 2010," said David Bosworth, executive director of the Center for Family and Youth. "We are extremely thankful for the support and kindness of the students of the University at Albany, who have expressed a strong desire to assist those less fortunate than themselves."

"SA Cares is an important part of the work that the Student Association does to give back to the community both on and off campus," said Student Association President Justin Wax-Jacobs. "Considering the difficult circumstances many area children face every day, it is only right that UAlbany comes together to help make a difference at this time of year."

Lisette Acosta Corniel with children in the Dominican Republic.

UAlbany doctoral student Lisette Acosta Corniel helping out in the Dominican Republic.

The UAlbany community is making an impact this holiday season through many other efforts.

• Dozens of UAlbany students chopped vegetables and are helping with other preparations for the annual Equinox Thanksgiving Dinner that feeds 9,000 people. 

• UAlbany students will be among this year's "Holiday Heroes," providing toys and clothes to several hundred area children through the Parson's Child and Family Center. This effort is headed up by Residential Life. Students are delivering the gifts to Parsons on Dec. 3.

• UAlbany student athletes will don warm clothing and donate their time as bell ringers for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign. Athletic teams will also be giving to the Albany County Adopt-A-Family Program.

• The African Student Association and Third World Impact, both student groups, are working together through Dec. 17 to collect donated clothing for children and their families in the Congo through the Save the Congolese Children organization, which has a local office in Albany. The organization also pays school fees for children in the Congo.

Giving by the UAlbany community is not limited to the holidays. It extends year-round and around the world.

• Elaine Lasda Bergman, a Dewey Graduate Library bibliographer, is a "Friendly Home Visitor" with Senior Services of Albany year round. She visits a woman who lives alone, does not drive, and who is learning to speak English. Bergman helps her sort through her mail and run errands. 

• Raised in poverty in the Dominican Republic, Lisette Acosta Corniel, a third-year doctoral student in Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino Studies, now devotes considerable time, effort and money to helping those in her Dominican Republic hometown of Rio San Juan and elsewhere. She organizes fund raisers and clothing drives. She was recognized by the Dominican government's Ministry of Youth as the Young Outstanding Dominican Abroad for her academic achievements and efforts to help those in need in the Dominican Republic. 

• Each year Lisa Taylor of the Communications and Marketing office organizes donations for several families in the Adopt-A-Family program. A U.S. Army veteran, Taylor makes sure to provide for a military family in need of holiday help due to a family member's deployment.

UAlbany alumni carry on the tradition of giving.

• When recent UAlbany alumna Elizabeth Gray first visited the isolated Wishi community in the rain forest of Ecuador in January 2010, she was asked to teach a class for children. The students sat on logs under a scrap of aluminum roofing and there were no school supplies.  In the area for a one-day reforestation project, Gray ended up staying a week. She returned less than two months later with basic school supplies to continue teaching, and, inspired by the community's commitment to learning, Gray launched the "Wishi Project." This fundraising effort aims to establish a primary school for the children, providing them with a formal education and helping to preserve the indigenous Shuar language and culture.

"The community is committed to providing their children with a basic education to allow for their meaningful participation in the modern world, while also preserving their traditional language, culture and lifestyle," said Gray, who received her bachelor's degree from UAlbany in 2008 and her master's in 2010.

To learn more about other opportunities where you can make a World of Difference, visit UAlbany’s Community Connections.


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