Charity starts at the office for Pitt employees

Office of Research employees wrapping presents


It’s the most wonderful time of the year — to give to others.

In addition to the annual Christmas Day at Pitt collections, different schools and offices participate in charitable activities throughout December and the whole year.


You have one more day to contribute gifts and winter wear to be distributed to those in need during Christmas Day at Pitt and to community partners.

The annual Community and Governmental Relations’ holiday gift drive and collection of new and un-used hats, scarves, gloves, and socks are taking place through Dec. 14.

Gifts, which can be dropped off at the CGR office in 710 Alumni Hall, should be new, unopened and have a retail value of $20 to $25. They should be wrapped as a holiday present with a visible and secure tag containing information about the appropriate age and gender for the gift. Details: or 412-624-7755.

Winter apparel can be dropped off in bins located at several sites on the Oakland campus. Find the full list here.

The Office of Research in the basement of the University Club recently formed an activities committee “to organize social events through the year that would foster the relationship among themselves, as well as create an atmosphere that increased employee morale and camaraderie,” said Jennifer Woodward, Vice Chancellor for Research Operations

The committee conducted a survey on what people wanted to do, “and from the survey, it was very clear that they didn't want to just have fun, but they wanted to do things that had an impact and were important and charitable in nature as well,” Woodward said.

They now do five to eight events a year for the 47 employees in the office, and each event has a charity attached to it, said Christine McClure, committee member and associate director for PERIS Solution.  This year, they did a Halloween potluck, at which they assembled children’s literacy kits for a United Way drive; collected food for the Pitt Pantry; and did a drive to sell t-shirts to benefit the Tree of Life congregations.

This week, they are wrapping the presents employees purchased for four families the group adopted through the Homewood-Brushton Salvation Army. For the past three years, they’ve adopted families in different areas around Pittsburgh.

“We use it as an opportunity to team build within the office,” Woodward said. “We arrange certain blocks of time where you can go into the conference room and wrap the gifts together.”

“We make this quite a big event in our office, so that the gifts are very beautifully wrapped,” McClure said.

The Office of Research is just one group giving back this season.


The Learning Research & Development Center had several fundraisers this month for United Way.

  • On Dec. 6, LRDC hosted a United Way Breakfast Fundraiser that included a 50/50 raffle, with half the proceeds go to the winner and the other half go to United Way. 
  • Tickets also are being raffled for an "Ultimate Pitt Fan Basket," which includes a tie, scarf, leather notebook holder, water bottle, shot glass, apron, sweatshirt, cutting board, wine opener, tree ornament, keychain, and magnet. Tickets are $2 each, or 3 for $5, and can be by contacting Marge Gibson (LRDC 834, The winners will be announced at the LRDC Holiday Party on Dec. 14; winners need not be present.
  • Peppi’s hoagies can be ordered through Dec. 13 for the United Way Hoagie sale by contacting Marge Gibson. Hoagies will be delivered on Dec. 20, and must be picked up on the 9th floor of the LRDC. Each hoagie is $8. 


Decorating at UPG

Since 1998, the Pitt–Greensburg community has hosted a Christmas Party for the children attending Jeannette Head Start. The whole campus community is invited to participate in this annual event through their purchases, donations or volunteering at the event. The children and their teachers are invited to campus where they enjoy a hot lunch, age-appropriate holiday activities, and a visit from Santa where they receive gifts. This year’s event, organized by Troy Ross, director of Housing and Residence Life, took place on Dec. 7.

Organizations at Pitt­–Greensburg also sponsor a couple other holiday drives: 

  • The Pitt-Greensburg Staff Council and Student Government Association host an Annual Cookie Swap to benefit the United Way campaign. The event, now in its fifth year, invites students, faculty and staff to contribute a batch of three dozen homemade cookies that are then sold on campus.
  • Pitt-Greensburg’s Military & Veterans Program partnered with the Veteran Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania to collect non-perishable food items, hygiene products, winter clothing, etc. to distribute to veterans in need. This was the first year for the collection, which ended on Dec. 7.


For more than 20 years, the Katz Graduate School of Business has been participating in the Salvation Army’s Treasures for Children program that was established to provide Christmas gifts to children in need throughout Allegheny County.  Last year, gifts were provided for 120 children.

Also this year, staff were invited to participate in the Pitt Business Student Organization’s annual toy drive for the Ronald McDonald House of Pittsburgh.


In conjunction with the Allegheny County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, Pitt Law staff member Jaclyn Belczyk coordinates a gift drive for kids living in shelters. Eighteen faculty and staff participate this year.

Pitt Law staff and faculty, spearheaded by the Rewards and Recognition Committee, collect hats, gloves and scarves at the holiday party, which are donated to a local shelter. 


Jem Spectar, president of Pitt–Johnstown, helped light up Park Avenue Playground in Moxham on Dec. 6, while UPJ staff distributed 75 books for ages 0-3 and 150 for ages 3 and up.


The School of Social Work collected gifts for children from 6 months to 12 years for the Hill House Health Center. It is being spearheaded by Tracy Soska, clinical associate professor, and Deborah Robinson, continuing education director and field coordinator.


Pitt Vets collected new, unwrapped toys in conjunction with Jerome Bettis’ The Bus Stops Here Foundation. The toys will be distributed through The Children’s Home, It’s About the Warrior Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania and Best of the Batch Foundation, started by former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch.


Pitt Police recently participated in the Rally on the Alley event for Special Olympics Pennsylvania. The event raised nearly $5,000 for the Special Olympics athletes. 


  • Alyson Stover, an assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, headed up a Capable Kids Angel Tree, which provides gifts for children with incarcerated parents and other families in the Hermitage community in Mercer County.
  • Trisha Cousins, an instructor and clinical coordinator in the Department of Sports Medicine & Nutrition, organizes students in her Nutrition Assessment class to donate food to the Pitt Pantry.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.