Gateway Community College delivered much-needed holiday cheer Dec. 9 to an estimated 600 needy adults and children who attended the college’s 11th annual holiday dinner for the disadvantaged.
The enormous event is greater New Haven’s largest holiday party for the needy, bussing in participants from shelters from across the region to the college’s Long Wharf campus. In 2008, the event served 400 people.
This holiday tradition is organized and hosted by volunteers from the GCC community that include faculty, staff and students.
This year the event, held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., featured a full buffet dinner, as well as festivities that include Santa and Mrs. Claus, face painting and carolers. Every child left with a gift. Every adult left with a bag of personal care items. And all participants left with a winter coat, hat, gloves and scarf.
“I always tell the faculty and staff that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” said GCC President Dr. Dorsey L. Kendrick. “Our mission is rooted in providing opportunity and hope to everyone in the community, and when you see the look of joy on the faces of the children and adults at this event, you can see we are doing just that.”
The holiday dinner is supported entirely through donations; no state funds are used. In addition to the generous donations of cash, toys and winter wear from the GCC community, many other organizations and businesses contributed toward helping make this year’s event a success. Among them: DATTCO bus company, which donated the buses and bus drivers’ time making the entire event possible; Schick, which donated razor kits for the adult personal care goodie bags; Stop & Shop; and Wal-Mart in New Haven, which donated $1,200 in gift cards that were used as gifts for the children.
In all, 15 local organizations’ clients were hosted at the event, including Christian Community Action Inc., Emmanuel Baptist Shelter and Columbus House.
The success of the event was evident on the faces of the many children who participated, including one little girl, who asked one volunteer while trying on her new winter coat, “Do you know what a princess looks like? Do I look like a princess?”