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Lynn University’s day of service honors victims of Haiti quake on second anniversary
Published Jan. 12, 2012
The Lynn University community came together on the second annual Knights Unite Day of Caring to once again honor and live the legacy of the four Lynn students and two professors who lost their lives in the devastating Jan. 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake. The six traveled with eight other students on a “Journey of Hope Haiti.”
“Today, Lynn’s spirit of service carries on through all of you,” said President Kevin Ross to the 750 who assembled to participate in service projects on and off campus. “And throughout today, I ask you all to remember what it means to be a Knight – to be selfless; to show the strength to do what is right; to be a courageous champion for those in need,” said Ross.
Given their marching orders, the sea of blue-shirted “knights” fanned out to board buses to off-campus service projects: to paint homes, clean up beaches, feed the poor, pick crops, read to children and host a spring training game for disabled youth.
On campus, the rest of the knights headed on foot to fulfill their service making sandwiches for afterschool programs and putting together food packages for underprivileged children.
More than 250 “knights” donned hairnets and in true assembly-line fashion, diligently poured rice into baggies and packed more than 36,000 meals in record time, egged on by enthusiastic Feeding Children Everywhere organization members.
Students, faculty and staff were singing and dancing as they scooped out rice while others twirled hoola hoops in between bouts of packing. The bursts of energy help to speed up the process and volunteers had already packed up 20,000 meals by 10 a.m.
“I’m having so much fun,” said Gerry Bald, development staff member, as she bopped away to the strains of Aretha Franklin’s Respect. “I realize this is what the students [who perished in the earthquake] wanted. Now, I’m going to cry..."
The basketball team came out in force and joined in a race to finish 3 boxes. “You’re actually putting your hands on food that goes into the bellies of hungry kids,” said Kara Teresi of Feeding Children Everywhere.
Meanwhile off campus
At the Florence Fuller Child Development Centers, faculty, staff and students helped the children with reading projects and a learning activity based on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And John and Jean Gianacaci who lost their daughter, Christine, in the earthquake, delivered a $5,000 check from their foundation, Christine’s Hope for Kids, whose mission is helping underprivileged kids. Their goal is to put a smile on the faces of those less fortunate, much like Christine’s big smile. And like the smiles of the children at Florence Fuller who happily posed with a big replica of the check.
For Habitat for Humanity, 25 students, faculty and staff led by Chris Boniforti, Lynn’s chief information officer, worked on two houses. Said Boniforti, “It makes me proud to be part of the Lynn family and see us come together to do great things for our community and help those who need a helping hand... I’m proud to be a Knight.”
For PBC County Parks, Professors Anna Krift and Joseph Hall led two groups of faculty, staff and students at Red Reef Park and Boynton Beach Inlet in picking up more than 400 pounds of trash. Their “take” included more than 30 vintage (circa 1973) pull-top beer cans. “These were found under the sea grape trees,” Krift said.
And the good work continued at Okeeheelee Park Nature Center near West Palm Beach. Said group leader and Student Life Associate Dean Gary Martin, “Under the watchful (and suspicious) eyes of armadillos, tortoises and carnivorous birds, 30 Lynn students, faculty and staff spent the morning removing invasive, nonnative plant life. It was hard dirty work, but the time went by quickly. Given the recent Parks and Recreation department budget cutbacks, the staff of the center was very grateful for our labor and willingness to help.”
In all, 750 Lynn community members (double last year) participated in more than a dozen projects, on and off campus – a fitting tribute to the spirit of service.
And at the end of the day, the Lynn community came together once again.
“Today we remember the lives of Dr. Patrick Hartwick, Dr. Richard Bruno, Stephanie Crispinelli, Britney Gengel, Christine Gianacaci and Courtney Hayes – lives filled with strength, spirit, service and endless hope,” said President Ross. “Although they are no longer with us, their legacies continue to shine like these luminaries, bringing light to those in dark places, as others carry on their work.”
Following a moment of silence at precisely 4:53 p.m. - the moment the Haiti earthquake struck, a moment that would forever impact Lynn University - six bells chimed for those lost, and the sweet melody of Lean on Me, the anthem of the candlelight vigils held for them, drifted throughout the campus to close out the day.
- C.R.O.S. (Christians Reaching Out to Society) Ministries After School Snacks – Volunteers prepared 140 sandwiches for afterschool programs in Lynn’s Student Center.
- Feeding Children Everywhere – Volunteers packaged 36,400 meals for underprivileged children in the Green Center on Lynn’s campus.
- Paint Your Heart Out – 39 Lynn volunteers helped paint the exterior of homes owned by low income, senior, disabled and/or veterans in Lake Worth and Delray Beach.
- Habitat for Humanity South Palm Beach County – 25 Lynn volunteers helped build two homes for the poor in Delray Beach.
- C.R.O.S. (Christians Reaching Out to Society) Ministries Gleaning – 60 volunteers picked produce at Green Cay Farms in Delray Beach that have been left from commercial harvesting methods. Specifically, Lynn’s volunteers picked cherry tomatoes for salads, marinara sauce and stewed tomatoes. All will be donated to local food shelters.
- C.R.O.S. (Christians Reaching Out to Society) Ministries The Caring Kitchen – 12 volunteers served lunch to some 200 people in Delray Beach who are homeless, members of families with children, have low incomes or are seniors. The volunteers also cleaned the kitchen; wiped down tables, chairs and counters; and mopped floors.
- PBC Environmental Resources Management – Volunteers participated in trash and exotic plant removal located in Lantana.
- Florence Fuller Child Development Center (East & West Centers) – Volunteers assisted teachers with reading projects.
- Okeeheelee Park – 30 volunteers removed exotic plants and cleaned, restored and installed wood duck nest boxes.
- PBC County Parks – Volunteers participated in beach cleanups in Red Reef Park in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach Inlet.
- Miracle League Day of Caring Baseball Game – Volunteers organized a “Spring Training” game for the children of the Palm Beach County chapter of The Miracle League, a charitable organization that conducts special baseball games for children facing serious mental and physical challenges.