By Mike Foster
`Twas three weeks before Christmas and all through the school; uOttawa staff were doing something cool; filling up stockings with goodies, gifts and toys; in hopes the donations cheer up girls and boys.
Apologies for this variation on Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, but ‘tis the giving season and, once again, uOttawa staff and faculty showed incredible generosity in the 2015 stocking drive. Thanks to them, 700 children identified by three partner charities – Les Centres jeunesse de l’Outaouais, the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard and the Dalhousie Food Cupboard – will have happier holidays this season.
Anne-Marie Lacroix, of the Ceremonies and Events Office, who has been organizing the annual stocking drive for the past eight years on behalf of the Office of the President, says the campaign has grown much over 10 years.
“In 2008, when I started working here, my boss had been doing the stocking drive for a few years and asked me to take over. We had about 150 stockings at the time. This year, the uOttawa community has put together 700 stockings for children at three different centres. These centres provide social services to the community in and around the Ottawa city centre and Gatineau. They rely on the University to help them give gifts to the children who use their services. It has become an annual tradition for many employees at the University,” said Lacroix. “This is how we kick-off our holiday season, by giving back to the community.”
Employees are matched with anonymized children between the ages of one month to 17 years old and they fill stockings with books, toys, crafts, clothing, chocolate, candy canes, gift cards and other goodies. Gifts are wrapped and labelled with the children’s names. The donations are then collected at Tabaret Hall on the main campus and Roger Guindon campus before a volunteer transport team delivers them to the centres.