Vassar Spreads Cheer for the HolidaysAthletics Teams, Tutors, OCEL and Others Join in the Fun

Vassar is a busy place in early December as the end of the fall semester approaches, but students, faculty, and staff take time every year to reach out to folks in the Poughkeepsie area who need a boost during the holiday season. 

Members of the men’s and women’s soccer teams and the women’s golf team spent a day visiting local hospitals and nursing homes, belting out holiday songs (not entirely in tune) and handing out presents as volunteers for John Flowers’ Elves, a local organization that first formed a partnership with Vassar in 2005. “I’ve loved doing this every year,” said Dahlia Chroscinski ’19, a midfielder on the women’s soccer team. “It’s great to get out into the community and bring some joy to people who need it.”

Men’s soccer coach Andy Jennings agreed. “Everyone on the team knows it’s a privilege to attend a school such as Vassar, so any opportunity to give something back to the local community is fundamental to the Vassar experience,” Jennings says. “And the benefits work both ways; getting to know the Flowers family and what they do for the community has been an inspiration for all of us.”

Sue Faircloth (upper left) of Rural and Migrant Ministries accepts gifts collected by the Office of Community-Engaged Learning. Others in photo: (Seated) OCEL Assistant Director Stephanie Fisher-Meyer (left) and OCEL Director Lisa Kaul; (Standing): Amanda Goodman, OCEL administrative assistant; Pastor Max Faircloth and Munro Faircloth.

Continuing a long tradition, the staff of the Office of Community-Engaged Learning (OCEL) collected gifts from people across the campus and donated them to Rural and Migrant Ministries, an agency that works with migrant farm families. “It’s a real blessing to have worked with Vassar for so many years,” said Ruth Faircloth, women’s outreach coordinator for the agency. “We asked the people at the college for a little help 29 years ago and they responded immediately and have been doing so ever since.”

Members of the Women’s Tennis Team bought gifts for a Poughkeepsie family through Dutchess Outreach, a local nonprofit agency.

The women’s tennis team continued a tradition of its own, “adopting” a local family through the nonprofit agency Dutchess Outreach and spending a day buying gifts the family had put on a holiday wish list. 

“It’s something we look forward to every year, having the opportunity to help a family that really needs it,” said Ashley Fair ’20, who helped organize the event along with teammate Tara Edwards ’20.

“We made sure we bought everything on the wish list—and a few things that weren’t,” says Edwards.

Two student-mentoring groups under the auspices of Vassar’s Urban Education Initiative celebrated the holiday season with students in the Poughkeepsie City School District.

Children enrolled in programs run by the Vassar English Language Learner Outreach Program (VELLOP) unwrap some books and art supplies.

Members of the Vassar English Language Learner Outreach Program (VELLOP) collected bilingual books and art supplies for elementary school students enrolled in the English as a New Language Program and others at the Smith Early Learning Center in Poughkeepsie. Volunteers from Vassar’s ALANA Center provided gifts and wrapping paper, and members of the field hockey and men’s baseball teams spent an evening sorting, wrapping, and organizing all the items in preparation for the event. Sixty-five children received gifts, then wrote thank-you notes and made paper trees, houses, and snowflakes for a collaborative collage. 

Poughkeepsie Middle School students and their mentors from Vassar After School Tutoring (VAST) viewed some of their work at a holiday party at The Barns.

More than 50 Poughkeepsie Middle School students attended a holiday party at the Barns hosted by the Vassar After School Tutoring (VAST) program. While enjoying pizza and other goodies, student projects were presented—including an anti-bullying video and several stop-motion animation short films.