The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Restoring Hope

When can an infinite amount of ice cream, candy,
whipped cream, sprinkles and cherries make a difference
in a child’s life? It’s when unfortunate circumstances
have caused them to realize the value of the little
things in life.

Spring break for college students usually consists of
traveling to Cancun with friends, partying and forgetting
all about school work. Contrastingly, for twelve
generous St. John’s students from the Queens and
Staten Island campuses, it was donating their time to
children who have been born with life-threatening illnesses
through the Give Kids the World program.
Twelve student leaders representing seven different
sororities from both campuses flew to Florida in order
to spend time with these children and make their day a
little brighter.

“I see a young girl who is eating an ice cream sundae
look up at her father and say ‘this is the life’,” said
Chad Sandifer, the Greek advisor from the Staten
Island campus. “How does a child so young understand
what it takes many people a lifetime to understand?”
Give Kids the World is a non-profit resort in Central
Florida that works to makes wishes come true for children
with terminal illnesses. Mary Pelkowski, the
Director of Leadership Development at St. John’s,
brainstormed the idea with DePaul University this past
summer and proposed that St. John’s participate.

They
applied for an application process on Labor Day of last
year and shortly after, it was approved and generously
supported by Student Government Inc.
“We wanted to do whatever we could to make the
families happy,” Pelkowski said. “The child was the
main focus.”

The children in the program ranged from infants to
16 years of age. The students involved also got to know
the families of the children and each child’s unique situation.
The volunteers not only made ice cream sundaes
with them but played basketball, made arts and
crafts, served them meals and painted their faces as
well.

“At first I was nervous. After all, I am by no means
an artist and I did not want to disappoint the children
with my feeble attempts to draw Disney characters,”
said Emily Giblin from Gamma Chi Sorority.
“However, soon I realized none of that mattered.”

Giblin felt this was a eye-opening experience and
realized the only thing these children wanted to do was
make the most of every moment. She said people in this
day and age are easily irritated by everyday problems,
but these families are grateful for everything they have.

They are grateful to be alive.
“Give Kids the World is a community of dreams
and hope,” said Marquita Johnson, member of the Delta
Sigma Theta Sorority. “To participate in the program
was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The experience that had the most impact on this St.
John’s student is when she painted the faces of the children
from the Hunter family. She said their father was
video taping all of the volunteers, which means that the
memories from that day will be in their home forever.

To ensure that the families were being entertained to
the fullest, some of the students even dressed up as
Barney and elves.
Pelkowski said the volunteers wore St John’s
University shirts in order for everyone to know where
the students were from. One of the families took notice
of their shirts and was pleased to know that there were
people from her home state volunteering. “The family
was from Selden, New York and we became very
close,” Pelkowski said. “We still talk to the family to
this day as well as the other families from Florida via email.”

Give Kids the World made wishes come true for
more than 75,000 families from across the country.
“This was a wonderful opportunity,” Pelkowski
said. “It was a very meaningful experience for all of us
to live out the mission of our University by spending
quality time with others and realizing what truly does matter.

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