When California, Clarion and Edinboro joined to become Pennsylvania Western University in July, new and exciting opportunities expanded on the longstanding customs of each campus. Among the traditions that each will retain is how the campus community – both employees and students – gives during the holiday season.

At PennWest Edinboro, the entire campus – all offices, departments and student clubs – is invited to take part in the Happy Holidays bucket drive, which benefits Edinboro’s PennWest Pantry.

Teams of six people will compete to fill the buckets, and the team with the heaviest bucket will win a pizza party, donated by the Office of Student Affairs. Suggested donations include personal care items, snacks, instant meals and cleaning products.

Holiday giving at PennWest California also benefits the pantry. The California campus marked Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Nov. 14-18 with various events aimed at getting resources into the hands of students; the week also encouraged giving to PennWest Pantry.

“The PennWest Pantry is a free resource that provides students with food, personal care items, school supplies, household goods and resources,” said Diane Hasbrouck, associate director of Student Development and PennWest Pantry coordinator.  “There are many examples of how students are retained because the pantry can close the gap on meeting their basic needs. The pantries are located on all campuses.”

To request items, students can visit my.pennwest.edu and click “PennWest Pantry” under student quick links.

Also at California, the Student Government Association has brought back the Toys for Tots drive, which had been conducted annually in the past. Organizers plan to make it an annual event again. Items collected will go to children in the California, Pa., area.

At Clarion, the holidays provide an opportunity to give back to the communities that welcome students at the Clarion and Venango campuses.

At PennWest Clarion’s holiday luncheon for employees, the tradition of donating toys, books and personal care items will continue. This year, the donations, coordinated by Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society, will be given to Clarion County Children and Youth Services.

PennWest Clarion – Venango in Oil City continues to participate in Community Services of Venango County’s Adopt-a-Family program. Families submit a list of five needed items and five wanted items, and Venango individuals and organizations sign up to fulfill the requests.

Venango Veterans Club is collecting money to buy holiday planters for elderly veterans at Oakwood Heights Presbyterian Home, Oil City.

“These vets range in age from 70s to 105 years old. This year, 14 elderly veterans reside at this facility,” said Mark Conrad, library circulation director and advisor to the Venango Veterans Club. “This is a long-term project that continued even during the pandemic. We bought the planters, but we were unable to deliver them personally.”