Rider volunteers served approximately 400 meals as part of The Loaves and Fishes gathering
Kristine A. Brown

Rider volunteers took turns serving meals throughout the afternoon.

Thanksgiving came a little early this year for many members of the Trenton area community who enjoyed a traditional holiday meal at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral on Saturday, Nov. 23. Helping to serve the meal were several dozen students, faculty and staff from Rider University.

With the generous donation of food prepared by ARAMARK Food Services, the Rider volunteers served approximately 400 meals as part of The Loaves and Fishes gathering held annually the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Stacy Fischler Parrado, assistant dean of Rider’s College of Business Administration, co-chaired this year’s event with Christine De Frehn, academic coordinator in the university’s College of Continuing Studies. “This annual project provides the Rider community with an opportunity to share its good fortune with others,” Parrado says.

The Rider volunteers arrived early Saturday morning to set up tables and chairs, serve juice and coffee, and take turns serving meals throughout the afternoon. Additionally, the Rider family donated dozens of homemade and store-bought cookies for participants to take home after the meal was over.

“Once again, this was a great experience for our Rider family. To give back to others in our community — especially at the holidays — is a terrific feeling,” De Frehn says.

Rider has been assisting with The Loaves and Fishes gathering for more than two decades. As in many years past, all members of the university’s baseball team came out in force to lend a hand setting up, breaking down, and providing whatever assistance was needed.

Head coach Barry Davis says, “Our baseball team has been doing this my entire 10 year career at Rider, and many more years prior to that. The camaraderie of our team extends far beyond the baseball field. Giving back to our community this way is a source of pride for our players. We look forward to participating and helping out every Thanksgiving.”

Jennifer Park, Rider’s Assistant Bursar, says, “I have been volunteering at The Loaves and Fishes gathering for many years. It is gratifying to see so many members of the Rider community come together in the spirit of the holiday. I’m thankful for this opportunity.”

For those who were unable to volunteer in person, Rider accepted monetary donations which went toward the purchase of milk and juice served during the meal, as well as other needed items such as serving spoons and dish towels. This year $385 was collected and donated to support The Loaves and Fishes.

Laura Seplaki, Rider’s associate director, Center for the Development of Leadership Skills, and director, Leadership Development Program, says, “It was wonderful seeing the Rider community come together to serve our local community.  Service opportunities like this help us to all feel connected, and not only do we benefit the lives of others, we are personally enriched by our efforts and contributions."

“We have much to be thankful for at Rider University,” Parrado added. “To share this compassion and kindness with others in our very own neighborhood is very rewarding. We deeply appreciate all who gave of their time, support and donations.”