Gallagher Charitable Society
organization led by the students at
Gallagher Charitable Society History
The earliest written record of what was to become the
Gallagher Charitable Society is found in the
That success led to more ambitious planning. Frank Marinaro,
Gallagher dorm governor, led the men of Gallagher Hall in planning “Operation
Christmas Basket.” The goal was to
provide a Christmas basket for the poor in
These paired events became the backbone of Gallagher Hall
charity. The next year the men of
Gallagher sponsored softball and floor hockey marathons and used other fund
drives to raise money for the Jerry Lewis Telethon and what was now an annual
Christmas party for the poor children in
Several things stand out.
My goal has been that this stay a student run event, so I give only minor advice. I did start the addition of giving used refurbished toys so that the children could get two toys each year, one new and wrapped and the other a used toy they could select. I find the used toys at many locations, but I am always gratified by the Saint Joseph’s College employees and local residents who bring us toys throughout the year. Professor Allan Broussard helped the Club with fund accounting for a number of years. Otherwise the students do all of the planning, fund raising, new toy purchasing, gift wrapping, mailings, accounting, and all that goes into the main event, the Christmas party.
There have been ups and downs, but there have been no
gaps. Students have always stepped
forward to get the job done. Every year
since 1977 there has been a Christmas party for the poor kids of
The earliest yearbook notice I found on
the Gallagher Charitable Society is the 1985 yearbook. It states that Gallagher Hall raised over $1,800 with the floor hockey marathon and the
local Wilco grocery provided chicken dinners for the
parents and children who attended the Christmas party. The Gallagher Charitable society has won
numerous awards and honors. The Jerry
Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Award (1990) was given to club president Steve
James (class of 91). The Indiana
Conference of Higher Education – Indiana Conference Compact for outstanding
public service was awarded to Kurt Krouse (Club
President 94-96) in Indianapolis on
THE EVENT SINCE 2000
There have been changes.
The effort now is almost totally for the poor of
As Club President in 2000 & 2001, Tim Clark greatly increased the club’s activities. Calvin Metts & Heather Mikus (Presidents from 2002-2005) kept up what Tim started. Melinda Maile, Jenna Ketch and Joel Rice were 2006 Chairpersons. In 2007 Seniors Kim Klaus and Maggie Hagenauer led Gallagher Charitable Society with help from Joanna Askwith. In 2008 the leaders were Lauren Stoffel and Amy Maile.
Attendance at our Christmas event has grown. From 2001-2006 we went from approximately 100 children to 200 children attending. The year 2009 saw 400 people pass through our doors. Games, Santa and presents have always been part of the event. But Santa now gets a lot of competition from events and an ever increasing host of “elves”.
Recent years have been blessed
with greater participation from the College Community. Student volunteers still come forward from
every dormitory on campus. The
The Rensselaer Community pitches in. Several years ago, two members of the Rensselaer Rotary Club, Mindy Beiers (SJC class of 1996) and Ari Nelson, provided hats and coats for the children. They raised money through the Rensselaer Rotary Club and what has become an annual Run/Walk for Warmth drive held at “24/7 Club Fit” in Rensselaer. Mindy and Rensselaer Rotary have continued the activity, though Mindy had help from fellow Rotarian Deanna Nugent (SJC class of 2007) this year (picture right). This is the fourth year Mindy and Rotary raised money for coats, hats, and gloves that were distributed Saturday at the party. For some of these children it is the first time they have had a warm, new coat. There were also donors of used toys. I am grateful that so many have stepped forward with donations. Judge Phil and Ellie McGraw, teacher Theresa Massoels, housekeepers Jana Herre and Jeanie Bushman and Debbie, James and Austin Davis were major donors of toys this year.
Three years ago Natalie Jimenez became President of Gallagher Charitable Society. She and other Hispanic students at Saint Joseph’s College made it possible for the Gallagher Charitable Society to better serve our Hispanic neighbors who attend the event. Now all announcements, including the arrival of Santa Claus, are given in both English and Spanish. Natalie handed the reins over to Juan Carlos Rodriguez who, as president, ran the event last Christmas (2010) and also this year. Juan built a good team with his vice president Courtney Tam and help from baseball team representatives Colt Smith and Jake Roberts. Natalie Jimenez joins the four of them in the picture on the left.
And so, as has happened every year for over thirty years, the students, staff and other members of the Saint Joseph’s College Gallagher Charitable Society, gave our less fortunate neighbors a taste of Christmas. They made Christ’s message of giving come alive for themselves and those they served. The children received presents, and coats, and books and cookies and Santa. It was a real Christmas of giving and sharing and cheer. With student leadership and effort Saint Joseph’s College, and the Rensselaer community, showed our neighbors that God loves them and does so through people who care. They carry on a long and proud tradition.
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