GUMC Students Focus on Giving Back This Holiday Season

Five students stand together holding large, festive holiday bags filled with gifts
HOYA Clinic members, including Rolando Barajas (M’25), pictured at right, hold bags of donations to the 2022 Toy Drive for children from families experiencing homelessness.

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(December 16, 2022) — In the midst of final exams and their own holiday preparations, students at the School of Health, School of Nursing and School of Medicine volunteered to spread happiness and health throughout the Georgetown community and beyond.

School of Health

Eight students stand around a table outside filled with cups of hot chocolate
GIVES volunteers pass out hot chocolate at this year’s tree lighting event.

Through Georgetown Individuals Vocal and Energetic for Service (GIVES), undergraduate students organize random acts of kindness for classmates, faculty and staff to fight the culture of stress that can be especially powerful during the holiday and exam period.

“One of our recurring events during this time of year is to put lights around Georgetown’s campus and pass out hot chocolate,” said Reona Pereira (H’23), president of GIVES and a health management and policy major. “We’re trying to create a less stressful environment for students during finals and also create a lively festive environment for faculty and staff. Plus, it’s always nice to see smiles on someone’s face from something small, like a free hot chocolate.”

GIVES campus lighting event took place this year on December 3, the day after Georgetown’s Christmas tree lighting. Students hung lights on the cannons and trees next to Healy and on the fence near the front gates of campus.

Examples of other random acts of kindness, or “raks” as the 100 club members refer to them, include passing out cookies to students coming out of classes and writing thank you notes to staff and faculty.

Three students decorate a fence with holiday lights
GIVES volunteers hang lights on the fence near the front gates of campus.

Different groups within GIVES meet every week to reflect about their own well-being and personal strategies for handling stress, in addition to sharing future “rak” ideas.

“We hope we’re making Georgetown feel a little more close-knit and maybe a little more happy too,” said Pereira.

School of Nursing

Makaela Bournazian (G’23), Isabella (“Izzy”) Seddon (G’23) and Grace Ward (G’23) are all second-year Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) student leaders with the Graduate Nursing Student Association. Together, they helped organize an annual holiday toy drive with Mary’s Center, a community health center in Washington, D.C., founded in 1988 by School of Nursing alumna Maria Gomez (NHS’77).

Mary's Center logo says Quality healthcare. Stronger communities.

“We wanted to find a way to give back to the community during the holiday season,” said Bournazian.

For the toy drive, the students stationed donation bins decorated by children from Mary’s Center in the Saint Mary’s Hall lobby and second floor lounge. Seddon also created a flier for the toy drive with a QR code that connected to an Amazon Wish List of requested toys that could be sent directly to Mary’s Center.

“Staff at Mary’s Center shared that the toy drive is special to many of the families,” explained Michelle Cole, director of operations communications and chief marketing officer for Georgetown University Medical Center, who assisted the students in coordinating the toy drive. “For many of the children who visit Mary’s Center, this could be the only toy they receive during the holiday season.”

School of Medicine

The 2022 HOYA Clinic student coordinators are in the midst of a holiday donations campaign to help them help others.

“HOYA Clinic is the largest and most coveted student volunteer initiative at Georgetown University School of Medicine,” said Rolando Barajas (M’25), MPH, HOYA Clinic community relations coordinator. “The clinic allows for medical students, faculty and staff to take the medical curriculum and apply it to the most under-resourced communities in the DMV area via student-run clinic nights, health fairs, community engagement, health education and patient advocacy programs.”

HOYA Clinic logo

Donations to HOYA Clinic help support activities including:

  • Community clinics that offer a myriad of health services, screenings, testing and education.
  • Foot clinics that offer footwear and wound education to individuals suffering from homelessness.
  • Flu clinics that offer free vaccinations at community organizations in the DMV area.

In addition to these clinical services, HOYA Clinic also organizes annual events for children from families suffering from homelessness, including a summer sports camp and a toy drive.

Donate to support HOYA Clinic.

Heather Wilpone-Welborn
GUMC Communications