Project Saint Nicholas to give back to local community


With Christmas quickly approaching, Christ the King Chapel and the Human Resources Department have collaborated their efforts to spread Christmas joy to the local community through Project Saint Nicholas. Through the project, Franciscan University has the opportunity to give back to the local community by donating money or items to the Urban Mission and Samaritan House so parents can buy their children Christmas presents. Pamela Salatino, coordinator of chapel ministries, and Robert Palladino, director of chapel ministries, have been working diligently these past weeks on collecting money and gifts for Urban Mission and Samaritan House.

Project Saint Nicholas has been ongoing before Salatino or Palladino arrived at Franciscan. “I was here as a student in the 90s, and it was happening,” said Palladino. “Our community has always been so generous, the people contributing have always been generous and we have always shared a monetary donation.”

The project was named after Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, said Palladino. The project always begins on the feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary because she was known for her charity.

There are several ways students can donate with the project. A second collection will be taken at all Sunday masses at Christ the King Chapel before the semester ends. Students may also drop off funds at Christ the King Chapel or collect new and gently used toys, books, clothing, coats  and shoes to take to the Human Resources Department on the second floor of Starvaggi.

One thing Salatino wanted people to consider is that “everybody thinks of little kids, but there are older kids who need donations too. It is important to remember the older kids.” They do not have a preference on what is donated because with the money, parents can purchase what they need for their families.

At the end of the donating period, a check is presented to Rev. Ashley Steele of Urban Mission and Sr. Maria Claresmith, TOR of the Samaritan House. However, people have already been donating so many items that Project Saint Nicholas has already loaded a van and driven it to Samaritan house to donate to the families. However, this does not mean they have reached their capacity on item donations.

When asked why they are involved with the project, Salatino said, “We love it, so why not? We help people, and that is why we are here.”

Palladino said, “It is a direct impact on the local community, and we can feel that. It is the best way to live Christmas.” The involvement from both the students and the community has been tremendous every year. In 2009 Christ the King Chapel won an award from Urban Mission for its contribution to the community.

Project Saint Nicholas would like to see students getting involved by donating. Salatino urged students to “please come because we need your help, and please consider participating because without your help this project will not be possible.”

“You are making the difference in the life of a local child,” said Palladino.“That is huge.”

Students may bring items to the lobby outside of Human Resources on the 2nd floor of Starvaggi Hall at any time between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. until December 13th. Monetary donations can be taken to the Chapel Office or given during the second collection at Christ the King masses. Please make checks payable to Franciscan University.