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January 23, 2014

Christmas Day at Pitt hosts record crowd

Last month’s Christmas Day at Pitt celebration welcomed 2,000 people — the event’s largest crowd ever, John Wilds, assistant vice chancellor for community relations, said in a report to the University Senate community relations committee (CRC) this week.

The annual event, organized in partnership with the Salvation Army and staffed by University volunteers, draws homeless and needy families to campus for a holiday meal and gifts for both children and adults.

Established in 2006, the event served 300 people in its first year, according to University records.

Another community project, Pitt’s People for Pets, which wrapped up in December, collected $2,000 and 2,200 pounds of pet food for the Animal Friends Chow Wagon, Wilds told CRC at its Jan. 21 meeting. The Chow Wagon supplies local food pantries with pet food so that families do not have to choose between feeding their pets and themselves.

Looking ahead, a spring Day of Caring is being planned, Wilds said, adding that community gardens will be among the prioritized projects for the volunteer work day.

CRC members discussed plans for upcoming meetings:

• CRC’s February meeting will center on a conference call to Pitt-Bradford to exchange ideas on community service with representatives from the regional campus. A similar conversation last spring yielded a fruitful conversation with representatives at Pitt-Greensburg, said CRC co-chair Laurie Cohen. The meeting is set for noon-2 p.m. Feb. 18 in 272 Hillman Library.

• CRC’s April meeting traditionally takes the form of a field trip to meet with representatives of a nearby community group. CRC’s Tracy Soska, a faculty member in social work, suggested visiting Uptown, in light of recent development in that neighborhood.

“It would be an interesting opportunity to look at connecting Downtown to Oakland,” he said.

—Kimberly K. Barlow