The Time of Giving

In large and small ways, the College touched the community at Christmas.

The largest labor of love was held December 15 at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of the Nativity in South Bethlehem. There, about 100 people from three nearby senior communities and from the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center, a drop-in facility for the economically distressed run by the churches of Southside Ministries, were served a holiday dinner of turkey, all the trimmings, and fabulous desserts.

The guests ranged from families without much money to a silent cluster of the deaf, from homeless men to jobless single mothers and their children. The food came from the Wood Co., which manages the College’s dining service, and the servers were members of the Moravian faculty and staff. Several trustees were on hand, too, including Priscilla Payne Hurd and Frederick Reinhard (in a Santa hat).

The setting was festive: red and green tablecloths with little sleighs made of gold mesh filled with red, green, and silver candy kisses as centerpieces. Up-tempo music was provided by a jazz trio: Tom Mondschein of CIT on guitar and two Moravian music students, Kyle Slemmer ’05 of North Wales, saxophone, and Justin DeAngelo ’02 of Forest City, piano.

President Rokke, who had written ERV in big letters on his nametag, greeted a man who roared back: “Hi, Erv! Can you guess my nickname? It’s . . . Rocky!”

Most of the other guests came in family groups, bringing a lively number of children. Probably the faculty members with the most valuable skill were Flor María Buitrago and Mirta Pimentel, visiting instructors of Spanish, who made several families from Mexico and Colombia feel the warmth of hearing their own language spoken.
Deb Evans, the College’s director of constituent relations, made friends with 2-year-old Patricia, who was as floppy as a rag doll, her huge eyes round with interest as Evans carried her around the room.

Meanwhile, youngsters made a beeline for the little stage at one end of Sayre Hall, the cathedral’s social room. There, Anne Dutlinger and a small corps of helpers—Cas Sowa, Connie Unger, Bob Mayer, Carol Meixell, Terry Fitzpatrick, and Loren Marquardt, an art teacher at Easton High School and an adjunct instructor of painting at Moravian—had set up tables of wrapping paper scraps, silver streamers, tape, glue, scissors, and glitter.

Brother and sister Juan, 7, and Melisa, 5, made paper chains fit for a Christmas tree while Xavier, 7, mastered the intricacies of creating a paper angel. At another table, Cami, 7, put together a silver tiara, sash, stole, necklace, bracelets, and kneepads—a princess these days likes to roller-blade as much as the next kid—for her holiday wardrobe. Several children displayed their creations in an impromptu gallery: the stage’s back curtain.

All the children received a T-shirt (Melisa’s was so long that she decided to wear it as a nightgown) as well as all the artwork they had made. Several families took provision boxes of leftovers: some to feed friends, others to have a second meal later.

“When you’re on the margins, not much changes—unless the drop-in center doesn’t get the food to feed you,” said Joel Atkinson, the Episcopal priest who is canon missioner (outreach coordinator) for the cathedral. “But one thing that’s scary is that ever since the attack on the World Trade Center, the impact on local charities has been severe. We depend on contributions.”

Other seasonal generosity came from the library staff, which called for hats, gloves, and scarves to deck the library’s Christmas tree, and a caroling group organized by Santo Marabella, who directs the Moravian MBA program.

On December 18, Marabella and a baker’s dozen faculty, staff, friends, and family took the campus bus, which had volunteered for the occasion, to Blough Health Care Center in Bethlehem, Cedarbrook Nursing Home in Fountain Hill, and Manorcare Health Services in Bethlehem. The carolers sang for more than 200 residents and also provided the choral voices for a Nativity program at Blough.

“All who participated enjoyed themselves and felt that it was a great way to kick off the holiday season,” Marabella said.

The library staff collected a tree full of accessories for warding off the cold. A sister from Gamma Sigma Sigma collected them and said they’d be donated to an area charity.

January 8, 2002

The Time of Giving
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