assistant news editor
Gannon University held its 39th annual Social Work Christmas Dinner Saturday to bring holiday cheer and a hot meal to local families.
The Christmas Dinner was hosted by the Social Work Club and allowed for students to volunteer to help out the entire Erie community by providing them with a free meal for the holidays.
According to Lydia Archinal, a junior social work major and president of the Social Work Club, this event is held in order to benefit the Erie community, especially those who may find themselves in a difficult financial situation. She said that, for some guests, this dinner may be the only hot meal they receive that day.
Archinal also said that the dinner is beneficial to Gannon students as well.
“I believe the guests attending the dinner have a lot to teach the students, staff and faculty,” she said. “Many of the guests have inspiring stories to share.”
She also said that students can get a lot out of this event if they take the time to volunteer and be open to experiences.
“I believe it is important for students to get involved in the Christmas dinner because it is truly an amazing experience,” Archinal said.
Volunteers were encouraged to be open to conversations with guests throughout their experience with the event in order to build relationships between the local Erie community and the Gannon community.
Archinal said that she had attended this event before becoming a Gannon student herself and it made an impact on her.
“It was amazing to see so many people together and enjoying each other’s company all for the sake of helping their community members,” she said. “It is a beautiful thing to see and experience.”
There were approximately 100 volunteers for this event who not only served food and helped out during the event, but also bought presents for the children, fundraised through a variety of events and collected donations from local businesses.
Hayley Woebse, a sophomore undecided major, said she volunteered at this event in the past and still finds it to be a unique experience.
“I think these types of events are great because students get the opportunity to meet and talk to people and hear stories that they may not have been able to hear otherwise,” she said.
Students who volunteered served a meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and other holiday foods to guests who attended the dinner.
There were also activities for children to participate in, as well as presents for each of them to take home from the event.
Free raffles during the event gave guests the opportunity to win a decorated Christmas tree or even bikes for the children.