e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | November 29, 2012 Twitter Facebook

Making Thanksgiving dinner a reality

Rachael Hood '13 presents the class contribution to Miguel Crespo, a volunteer at New Bethany Ministries, and Brandy Garofalo, director of day services at the Mallard Hospitality Center.
Photos by Brenda Lange

The students in the Doing Good at Work class taught by Santo Marabella, professor of management, put theory into practice last week when they presented a check for nearly $1,600 to a representative from New Bethany Ministries in South Bethlehem. And a week later, that amount had nearly tripled.

“The students received contributions from the entire college community,” says Marabella. “Moravian should celebrate the responsiveness of our community, especially when times are tough for everyone.”

His class had visited New Bethany Ministries earlier in the semester for students to get a first-hand look at how the less-fortunate live. When the students returned, they decided to raise money to support the non-profit in its efforts to provide Thanksgiving dinners to several hundred residents of South Bethlehem.

“New Bethany Ministries provides meals every day for those in South Bethlehem who cannot afford to feed themselves,” says Rachael Hood ’13 one of the students who led the fundraising effort. “This organization even provides people who are without a home a place to shower and rest during the day.”

And during the holidays, the need grows even greater. “Take a moment out of your day right now to imagine Thanksgiving without a turkey—without stuffing or gravy,” Hood wrote in a campus-wide email the week before Thanksgiving. “Imagine a life where the next meal isn’t figured out or even a guarantee.”

The members of the Doing Good at Work class pose with representatives from New Bethany Ministries.

On Thanksgiving and Christmas, donations normally run high, however, people have to eat every day.

So says Brandy Garofalo, the director of day services at New Bethany Ministry’s Mallard Hospitality Center. “We gave out 426 turkeys with all the trimmings and served 12 more turkeys in our dining room,” she says. “That’s a lot of people who had Thanksgiving dinner who otherwise would not have.”

In her 13 years with the non-profit, faith-based organization that serves the poor, homeless and mentally ill of the Lehigh Valley, Garofalo has seen the need grow—and has seen the community step up to meet that need. “And yet, there are still so many who need our help.”

When Garofalo met with the class to accept the donation, she was shocked at the amount they were handing over. “You hear a lot about young people being self-serving, and you students disproved that. I thank you all on behalf of 400 families. People will just light up when they get the food.”

Marabella has been teaching this interdisciplinary course for eight years, and always incorporates a service component so the students get a sense of what it means to “do good.”

“I aim to get them to think long-term,” he says. “I presence for them the whole idea that this is a way of being, not something done as an afterthought [in your life].” Students work on a personal model of doing good as it equates to their individual, personal values. He calls this their “portable model” that they can take with them throughout their lives.

“It’s not at all moralistic, as in good versus bad,” he adds. “But rather we stress what is important to them and what creates the individual and individual values. I’m proud of these students.”

Hood, whose family background includes missionaries in Africa and who has done mission work throughout her adolescence, says this experience has been “amazing and moving.”

“I am so very thankful and proud of my college community,” she adds. Our class as a whole made a difference with this and I believe we really did make a difference this Thanksgiving.”