Outpouring of Christmas spirit for Marianist brothers, sisters
UD Christmas traditions continue to evolve with the times as the Christmas off Campus committees found new ways to connect with alumni this year.
“Our alumni volunteers did an amazing job of shifting that focus to digital engagement with those in their communities to help those who are in need,” said Amy Vukcevic Williams ’01, associate director of alumni volunteer engagement. “They still wanted to support the organizations that they typically have in past years, just shifting the focus toward donating items of need for those organizations.”
In the past, alumni communities across the country have partnered with local organizations to provide in-person Christmas experiences, from parties with gifts to limo rides to see Santa. It is a way for alumni to continue the Christmas on Campus spirit they experienced as students during the University's largest one-day service event.
The Dayton alumni community decided to focus this year on supporting the local Marianist community, collecting items for gift bags for the Marianist brothers and sisters in Dayton.
The call went out to Dayton area alumni, and the donations came in. Service Chair member Emily Griffin Bowman ’01 said she received more than 70 bags on the first day and had to ask some alumni to donate less to this cause so others could also feel the joy of giving.
“We wanted to make sure that all the alumni who wanted to participate were able to participate,” said Bowman.
The Dayton alumni community received more than 120 gift bags donated from 61 participating alumni, ranging in graduation years from 1977-2016, according to Bowman.
The Dayton community leader Dan Covey ’77 dropped off packages to the house where the Marianist sisters live. He reported to Williams, “The young lady who answered the door was thrilled and advised that the sisters were out of the house. Smiling, she said that she would hide everything that night so that St. Nick could provide the bags on Sunday morning.”
“She said that she would hide everything that night so that St. Nick could provide the bags on Sunday morning.”
Williams said Christmas off Campus started in 1990 when Brian Lowry ’79 and Renai Basta Lowry ’75 started the tradition in St. Louis. It is now celebrated by all 35 UD alumni communities. It is one of many activities alumni communities continue to offer, despite the pandemic.
“We encourage alumni, wherever they are, to get engaged with their local communities,” said Covey. “Alums can go out to the UDigital site and find their closest local community and get involved.”
Alumni in Cincinnati also participated in Christmas off Campus, giving gifts and donations for those in need in their communities. They bought presents for 101 students. And, with the pandemic limiting interactions among family members, alumni found a way to make sure seniors felt the holiday cheer. “Over 250 Christmas cards were sent in that will go to local nursing homes,” said Williams.
Williams expects that future Christmas off Campus events will begin to incorporate this new virtual giving, along with in-person events.
“I think there will be a definite mixture of the two, not only with our Christmas off Campus events, but all events in general,” said Williams. “I think some will certainly go back to what they have done before, and others may move forward in a different direction.”
Covey finds encouragement in the overwhelming participation of alumni in this year’s celebration of Christmas off Campus.
“It’s still ‘learn, lead and serve’ — that’s what it’s all about.”
“We had to pivot this year, but we’re still doing something in the Marianist tradition,” said Covey. “It’s still ‘learn, lead and serve’ — that’s what it’s all about.”