Two separate Giving Trees, both adorned with ornamental tags representing a child in need, signaled a call to the University community this holiday season to share their good fortune, and the response was strong.
Sean Ramsden

From left, Maggie Molfetas '10, Matthew Marzorati '14 and Margaret Walsh '13 carry Giving Tree gifts from Emmaus House.

Even as December wanes, excitement is building in homes all over the United States. With the arrival of the holiday season comes the anticipation of gifts, whether it be a new iPad, toys, a new sweater, or even a tie for dad.

But even coal in your stocking – the traditional punishment in Christmas lore – might represent some relief to families struggling even to heat their homes, let alone provide gifts of any kind to their children. That’s why so many members of the Rider community wanted to share their good fortune with others during the holidays, and their efforts will certainly brighten the season for a good number of families. To them, it truly is better to give than to receive.

Two separate Giving Trees, both adorned with ornamental tags representing a child in need, signaled a call to the University community this December to share their bounty, and the response was strong.

The Association of Commuting Students Giving Tree returned to its familiar spot in the Bart Luedeke Center lobby this year in an effort to raise presents and other items for two local families.

“We symbolically adopted two families, and furnished the children with holiday gifts ranging from action figures to clothes,” said Michael Lombardo ’13, an Accounting major who is also the president of the Association of Commuting Students “The gifts are redistributed by the Salvation Army to the families. Additionally, we also donated $50 Shop-Rite gift cards to each family.”

The Commuting Students’ tree featured tags inscribed with items for the two families. Those wishing to help could pluck a tag from the Giving Tree and purchase the item for the cause. Lombardo said the two families received more than 20 much-needed items.

“I think it’s our duty as a society to give those who are not blessed with the same opportunities as we are a chance to enjoy the holidays as we do,” Lombardo explained. “I also think that it’s every human being’s right to feel loved, and we hope we can give the families that feeling through the Giving Tree.”

Across Lawrenceville Road, gifts gathered by Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) piled up inside Emmaus House. Rather than being distributed to specific families, CCM’s presents were delivered to the Millhill Child and Family Development Center in Trenton on December 13. CCM maintained a Giving Tree of its own inside Gill Chapel shortly after Thanksgiving in an effort to generate gifts for the children at Millhill.

Margaret Walsh ’13, an Elementary Education and Psychology dual major, said the CCM Giving Tree featured tags with the first name, age and gender of a child, and a gift that child hoped to receive. The response, according to Walsh, was tremendous, with more than 100 gifts being purchased by members of the Rider community.

“It’s important to us. We’re fortunate enough to be here and receive a good education, so we feel like we need to give back during the holiday season to those who may be less fortunate,” said Walsh, the service chair for CCM.

To other CCM members, like Matthew Marzorati ’14, this type of effort is also emblematic of their faith. “As Catholics, it’s important for us to give back and remember the less fortunate during Christmas,” said Marzorati, a Television and Radio major and the organization’s public relations chair.

According to History and Elementary Education major Ashley Davidson ’13, the CCM Giving Tree returned this year after a one-year hiatus, and is a tradition that goes back more than 20 years.