December 11 , 2006
The gift of giving shines across Emory
By kim urquhart
There are many ways to give gifts this holiday season that don’t require boxes or bows. Emory students, faculty and staff are opening their hearts as well as their wallets to support the work of nonprofit groups at home and around the world.
One Emory student devised a creative way to raise funds for an organization close to her heart — she makes donations in the names of friends and family members in lieu of gifts. Senior Elizabeth Sholtys, founder of the Ashraya Initiative for Children, is sending colorful holiday cards that explain how a donation to AIC in the recipient’s name will help shelter, feed, clothe and educate street children in India.
A donation to AIC will help kids such as Akash, a 14-year-old orphan who was hustling newspapers and snacks at a Bombay railway station and sleeping on the street outside a temple at night. Sholtys met him while working at a drop-in outreach center for street kids, and it was immediately clear that Akash needed more than just a free lunch — he needed a home. Akash, along with his brother and cousin, are among the nine street children now living in the AIC home, where in addition to their own beds, toys and clothing, the boys have a sense of belonging and support of a family, Sholtys said.
In its first two years, branches of AIC have spread to Montreal, Quebec, Austria and Japan in addition to U.S. chapters in Atlanta and Princeton, N.J. With nine children, two directors, two caretakers and a rented three-bedroom house in Pune, Sholtys said the organization hopes to take in more children and eventually find a permanent home through the purchase of a house. It also hopes to expand its community outreach program that provides educational support for street girls.
The holiday gift cards offer the opportunity to donate to a general operating fund or to contribute to a specific expense. “A little bit goes a long way,” said Sholtys. Just $10, for example, will buy a “nice outfit,” she said, while $35 will cover the cost of sponsoring a month’s worth of tuberculosis treatment for as many as three children.
Larger donations may help fund a year’s tuition at a private English-speaking school, which costs about $150. Akash, who didn’t know a word of English before coming to the home just over a year ago, is now excelling in his studies and learning English quickly at the school, she said.
The AIC also accepts donations of material goods, such as clothing and supplies. These are hand-delivered by AIC directors and volunteers from around the globe on their many trips to India.
“By giving a gift in someone’s name, you will be making a tangible difference for kids in India who clearly need it,” said Sholtys.
Visit www.ashrayainitiative.org to select a holiday card and for information on other giving options.
In other holiday giving efforts under way around campus: The staff at Yerkes National Primate Research Center filled 82 stockings and collected more than 12 boxes of supplies for senior citizens and school children that will be distributed to poor families in central Mexico, and the Campus Life Staff Development Committee collected baby goods for My House, a special care facility for medically fragile babies.
Other ways to help this holiday season:
Adopt-a-Wish at Emory Healthcare: Emory employees can adopt the wish of an individual, family or organization by selecting an ornament located on Angel Trees at various Emory Healthcare locations.
Books for Africa book collection: Volunteer Emory, Alpha Phi Omega and Alternative Spring Break are collecting college textbooks to benefit literacy efforts in Africa. Collection boxes are located at the DUC until Dec. 19. For more information, visit www.betterworldbooks.com.
Eagle Row clothing drive: Sigma Chi and Kappa Alpha Theta are leading the collection of clothing donations for Goodwill. Bins are located in each fraternity house and sorority lodge on Eagle Row.
Goizueta Business School Outreach: GBS is sponsoring an Angel Tree for two families from Grady Health System’s pediatric department; a canned food drive that will help provide a holiday meal for Grady pediatric families; and a collection of men’s clothing and household supplies for Clifton Sanctuary Ministries. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open Door Community clothing drive: Bring “gently used” men’s clothing and toiletries to the DUC on Thursday, Dec. 14, from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.opendoorcommunity.org/.
School of Nursing winter clothes collection: The School Life Committee is collecting new hats, scarves and gloves for women and children of the Gateway Homeless Services Center. Collection will be held in Rooms 118 and 420 in the School of Nursing until Dec. 19. For more information, visit www.gatewayctr.org/.
Nicholas House household supply drive: The University Catholic Center is collecting household supplies for the Nicholas House, which serves homeless families. Items will be collected in the Cannon Chapel before and after the
9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday masses in December. For more information, visit