‘Tis the season to give! Clara Escamilla, lecturer in the Department of Public Health, knows a little bit of holiday cheer can go a long way. That’s why she and her students, along with the campus community, have united on an annual holiday card project – a year-long collection drive that results in thousands of personal handwritten cards distributed each holiday season to residents in Fresno, Visalia, Clovis and Dinuba.
This year, they will distribute over 2,100 cards to local organizations and residential facilities, including Hind’s Hospice, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the Veteran’s Home of Fresno. A number of senior living homes and nursing facilities – as well as local firehouses and the Fresno State Police Department – will also be the beneficiaries of the holiday cheer.
For Airille Ogawa, a member of the Fresno State Student Public Health Association, this year’s card drive was personal and heartfelt. Her grandmother, a resident of the Golden LivingCenter in downtown Fresno, was a recipient, along with the many other residents at the facility.
“The residents were so happy and loved receiving a card for Christmas,” Ogawa said. “Golden LivingCenter is one of the biggest residential facilities in Fresno, so being able to give them cards was a lot of fun.”
The Student Public Health Association has partnered with Escamilla on this project since the very beginning. Ogawa says the opportunity for the club to give back to the community is important.
“We hope to inspire more students, faculty and other organizations to get on board with this project so that we can give out even more cards next year,” Ogawa said.
In addition to the Student Public Health Association, other campus groups also lend their time to write and decorate the cards, adding their own creative twist to each one. This year, joining the Department of Public Health students and faculty, are the Department of Social Work Education, the Deaf Education program, the College of Health and Human Services’ office of the dean, the Henry Madden Library, the National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association and the Fresno State women’s soccer team.
Escamilla makes an effort to get more campus involvement each year and credits the success of the project on the generosity of the campus and local community. Although the project receives plenty of support, it is donations of holiday cards – which are donated throughout the year – that really make the project thrive.
Escamilla says the year-long effort is worthwhile to see the smiles on the faces of the deserving recipients.
“For some seniors , this card is the only thing they receive during the holidays,” Escamilla said. “Some have no family to visit them. We need to keep the elderly in mind because they are a population that gets neglected frequently, and experience high levels of depression, suicide, and poverty. Furthermore, it is important to keep the firefighters and first responders in mind as well. They work so hard for the state of California, especially with all of the fires we’ve had this season.”
To donate cards or to learn more about this project, please contact Clara Escamilla at firstname.lastname@example.org.