UofL gets into the holiday spirit through a variety of philanthropy efforts.
UofL gets into the holiday spirit through a variety of philanthropy efforts.

You know, Santa Claus wears Cardinal Red for a reason. Every year during the holidays, UofL employees and students essentially take on the role of Santa’s elves, spreading philanthropy throughout the community to those in need.

This year, the UofL community has facilitated toy drives, winter clothing drives, food drives and more. Here’s a glance at our campus community’s benevolence, with some opportunities remaining to get involved.

The UofL School of Dentistry has a “Giving Tree” located in the lecture room hallway on the first floor that serves as a collection site for items needed by local homeless children. The school is collecting scarves, mittens, hats, coats, etc., of all sizes for all ages through Dec. 14.

For many years, ULSD staff member Gene Esterle has coordinated the collection and delivery of these items to local family homeless shelters. Esterle will check the Giving Tree on a regular basis and deliver donated items throughout the holiday season.

Additionally, last weekend dental students led the “Shop with a Dentist” program, partnering with 20 underserved students from Wheatley Elementary School to take part in holiday festivities, buy gifts and engage in learning. Last weekend, each child was paired with a dental student and given $100 to shop for holiday gifts.

Dental student and local Student National Dental Association member Darius Sanford says the Shop with a Dentist event gives kids a fun experience, along with information about budgeting and proper oral hygiene.

“Community engagement is an important mission of our school and we are proud to be a part of reaching out to these children,” Sanford said.  

The Office of Student Involvement works with Family Scholar House each year to buy gifts for kids that live there. 

The PEACC Center hosted a holiday donation drive for a local non-profit, collecting dry beans, white rice, diapers, baby wipes, hats, gloves, scarves, gift cards and more.

Through November, the Latin American and Latino Studies Club collected books and winter clothing for Doors to Hope, a local organization that engages with and advocates for women and immigrant families. 

The Women’s Center Student Parent Association sponsored an Angel Tree initiative.

The School of Public Health and Information Sciences delivered toys, clothing and other necessities to the Home of the Innocents earlier this week. The building SPHIS occupies at 485 E. Gray St. used to be the Home of the Innocents’ primary facility. Since 1880, the home has been helping Louisville’s most at-risk and vulnerable citizens — poor families, distressed mothers, their children and medically-fragile children.

The Student National Medical Association at UofL’s School of Medicine has been accepting coats, gloves and blankets to help the homeless in our community. Project Warm runs through Dec. 7 with a drop-off box in the lobby of the Instructional “B” Building.

According to Sharon Gordon, student success coordinator of Medical Student Affairs, the SNMA chose to focus on the homeless population this holiday season because students walk past many homeless citizens on their way to the HSC campus. 

“They wanted to help those that they see struggling in a way that could have immediate results, and so Project Warm was born,” she said

This year, the Research Resources Center is collecting donations for the Home of the Innocents to help homeless families and displaced children. Items needed include deodorant, feminine hygiene products, socks, laundry baskets, clothes of all sizes, underwear (all sizes), plastic totes with lids, toys, etc. Donations will be accepted through December 13 at MDR 012 (basement) or by contacting Sarah Tinsley (852-3675) about arranging a possible pick up.

The RRC hosts a holiday charity drive each year, coordinated by a team within the department. Typically, donations are collected for children’s hospitals. This year’s host team wanted to help families and people in need of all ages and the department is very excited about this opportunity to give back to the community, said Tegan Tulloch, IACUC coordinator.

UofL Athletics hosted a winter clothing drive during UofL Men’s and Women’s Basketball games earlier this month. Donations were delivered to Kentuckiana homeless shelters.  

Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is the director of social media and digital content. She joined UofL in 2015 as director of communications at the Brandeis School of Law. She also serves as a senior contributor at Forbes.com, writing about the restaurant industry, which she has covered since 2010. Her work has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine.