Season of Service: Residence Hall Communities Celebrate the Holidays by Giving Back

Author: Shannon Rooney

Notre Dame Christmas Tree

'Tis the season for good works and Notre Dame residence hall communities in particular have spent the last few months on a variety of service projects in the local community.

Each residence hall works throughout the year on behalf of its signature charity or charities, making a difference through fundraisers and programming. During the holidays, the halls focus on fun activities that bring residents together in unique ways to serve people in need.

“Volunteer work has always been a core component of Stanford Hall,” says senior Jacob Schaefer, one of two service commissioners for Stanford. “For one, we have always believed that, as men of virtue in Stanford, we have been afforded an incredible opportunity to foster a deeper connection with the surrounding South Bend community.”

Stanford’s signature charity is the South Bend Center for the Homeless. The hall hosts regular events on behalf of center clients, including a weekly Fun Friday spent volunteering at the center, trick-or-treating at Stanford for Halloween, and donating proceeds from other endeavors, like Stanford’s signature event, the Irish Iron Classic weight-lifting competition.

Each December Stanford men go Christmas caroling through the women’s residence halls on North Quad, soliciting donations for the Center for the Homeless. It’s an event that is equal parts fellowship and service, strengthening Stanford as a community.

CarolingStanford residents go caroling each year.

“By serving others consistently, and by placing an emphasis on serving with other members of Stanford, we are not only working to improve the lives of individuals who are less fortunate, but we are also creating a stronger sense of identity that is focused on being considerate to the needs of others,” says Schaefer.

Samantha Scaglione, chair of the Spiritual Life Council for Cavanaugh Hall, agrees that the benefits of residents engaging in service together are manifold. “I think it's incredibly important for us to do service together because it gives us an opportunity to live the pillars of a Holy Cross education,” says Scaglione, referring to the five principles that shape education in the Holy Cross tradition: mind, heart, family, hope, and zeal.  

One of Cavanaugh’s signature charities is St. Margaret’s House, a day center for local women and children. In addition to other events throughout the year, the Cavanaugh women put on a holiday pageant, The Birth of Christ, for St. Margaret’s House clients and include the children in the production. Students hosts the event at Cavanaugh and kick off with a pizza party and craft activity.

Cavanaugh pageant

Cavanaugh residents learn both from serving together and from the people they serve. Hall Rector Lauren Donahue says, “Supporting St. Margaret's House as it seeks to empower women and children living in economic poverty connects with the students’ experience in Cavanaugh Hall as they grow and learn in this community to be empowered women as well.”

Scaglione, who also directed this year’s pageant, says the students involved in the event enjoy the fellowship it fosters among them. “After the show as a group, all the Cavanaugh women involved with the pageant go to North Dining Hall together. We get to swap stories about the little boy who wanted to ‘moo’ in the play instead of ‘baa’ and the little girl who thought angels should constantly be flapping their wings to show that they're angels and not just regular people.”

The group’s dining hall meal is a small portion of the memorable evening, but, says Scaglione, “The joy is almost tangible, and it's an incredible way to start the Christmas season. “

Learn More

Residence hall communities work with charities throughout the academic year, but that’s just one of the ways our students make a difference. Learn more about our spiritual identity and how it shapes our commitment to serving others.