Maggie Reid, Features Editor
UC Hosts Annual Holiday Dinner
On Nov. 29, Utica College continued one of its longest traditions — the annual Holiday Dinner.
Students, faculty, and staff were encouraged to donate to a good cause, this year’s being Valley Kids Care. The event is organized by the Student Living and College Engagement office and the dining hall.
“It allows an opportunity for faculty and staff to get together with students outside of the classroom,” said Frances Lucia, coordinator of student activities for events and services. “Faculty and staff are assigned an area of the dining hall and engage with the students in that area in conversation, refilling their drink or providing them with dessert. We advertise this event well in advance hoping the students will bring their loose change in order to ‘tip’ their server.”
All tips received will go towards Valley Kids Care Foundation, which was founded in October 2014, months after Danielle McQueary Cerminaro, owner and head coach of Valley Gymnastics, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34.
Cerminaro is a UC graduate, and she turned a difficult time into a learning experience for her gymnasts, who worked with her to create the foundation and actively participate in fundraising. Money raised goes towards helping to relieve financial stresses for people in the community who are facing a chronic or life-threatening illness, allowing them to be able to focus on living life.
Before starting the foundation, Cerminaro’s gymnasts participate in fundraisers around the community because her philosophy for her gymnasts was to “not only be the best gymnast you can be but to be the best person in life that you can be.” When she revealed her diagnosis to her gymnasts, they asked her how they could help her because she always made a point to help everyone else, according to Valley Kids Care Foundation’s website.
For UC, planning for the dinner starts months in advance.
“We start discussing the holiday party in September,” said Damian Bohlert, general manager of dining services at UC. “Dining services works closely with SLCE to create and theme the menu. This year’s theme is Gatsby Bash.”
Students, faculty, and staff were invited to “party like it’s 1925” in order to contribute to a great cause. This year’s menu included prime rib, shrimp, fried calamari, carved ham, chicken franchise, shrimp ravioli, eggnog, and high-end desserts, according to Boehlert.
Besides a change in menu, students were also able to listen to music from Utica College’s brass ensemble.
The Holiday Dinner starts to get those who attend in “a holiday state of mind.”
“This event really starts off the holiday spirit,” Lucia said. “ Faculty, staff and students alike walk away feeling good on all levels.”
For more information about the Valley Kids Care Foundation, visit their website at http://valleykidscare.com/