Spreading Holiday Cheer
Students, staff and faculty at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus have been busy spreading holiday cheer throughout the community.
For the 20th year, campus staff members fulfilled the wishes of students attending the John L. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents, or RICA. RICA, a special education school for students with emotional disabilities, autism, specific learning disabilities or other health issues, provides day and residential treatment programs. It is next door to the JHU campus. RICA students typically ask for basic items, such as colored pencils, T-shirts, sweaters and gloves.
“Many of the children at RICA would probably not be receiving any holiday gifts this year if it weren’t for the generosity and caring of those at JHU MCC who have contributed,” said Paula Kramer, the campus administrative coordinator who organizes the gift drive each year. “RICA is extremely appreciative of what we do to make the holidays a little brighter for these young people. In many cases, the children ask for necessities only, such as gloves and socks, and to be able to grant their wishes is just as heartwarming for those who give the gifts as it is for those who receive them.”
In a different effort, students in the Health Science Intensive program organized a holiday drive for Sarah’s Hope at Hannah More, a 24-hour emergency shelter serving homeless families in Baltimore County. HSI student Ami Ifrah is a volunteer tutor at the shelter.
“My time there so far has already opened my eyes to the difficulty of living in a shelter,” Ifrah said.
As the holidays approached, the HSI students decided they wanted to select an organization to help, and Ifrah pitched Sarah’s Hope at Hannah More. Students collected granola bars, juice, fruit snacks and other child-friendly snacks, as well as toiletries such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste. Collection boxes were set up across campus.
“I wanted to play some role in improving the experience of the children and families at the shelter,” Ifrah said. “There are so many contributions to make, but a food drive is obviously something I felt our group could do relatively efficiently and quickly. It has been amazing to work together with fellow students on a group project that did not involve graduate school work. Everyone has been awesome working together to make this food drive a success.”