GSSWA spreads holiday cheer to homeless kids

Now that the holiday season has begun, student organizations at SIUE are hard at work spreading holiday cheer throughout the local and neighboring communities. The Graduate Student Social Work Association (GSSWA) is one such organization seeking to meet the needs of the less fortunate this holiday season.

GSSWA Chair Tracy Mathias leads the way to the sign-up sheet and collection box for the GSSWA's fundraiser to benefit the Covenant House Youth Homeless Shelter.

The GSSWA will be collecting goods until 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15, for the Covenant House Youth Homeless Shelter. The mission of Covenant House is to provide food, clothing, medical attention and shelter to underprivileged youth.

GSSWA Chair Tracy Mathias is enthusiastic about the initiative that the GSSWA has taken to help Covenant House for the second consecutive year.

“We are collecting donations and presents for youth in need this holiday season,” said Mathias. “We are working with what is considered the ‘crisis unit’ of the Covenant House organization. These kids have been through a lot and they really need a lot.”

According to Mathias, the GSSWA compiled a list of potential gift items using the Covenant House’s website.

“We have the list up and we’re just having people sign up and trying to get the presents out (to the youth at Covenant House),” said Mathias. “If we get quite a bit of donations, we’re going to try to go out there and deliver the presents to them ourselves which will be really nice.”

Covenant House is described on the organization’s website as “the only St. Louis agency serving solely unfunded youth—those kids who are not wards of the state or juvenile court—who have nowhere else to turn.”

Bryan Duckham, assistant professor of social work and the faculty liaison for the GSSWA, explained that the GSSWA organizes its list of possible activities at the beginning of each school year. This particular fundraising activity, according to Duckham, resulted from a need recognized by GSSWA members.

“I think the students considered what’s the greatest need in the community,” said Duckham. “The need is there and they felt that this was a worthy cause.”

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