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Colin Kiley makes some snack bags to be distributed as student deliver donated clothes and furnishing to families in need around Manchester. (JULIE HANSON/Union Leader Correspondent)

Families benefit from St. Anselm students’ drive

GOFFSTOWN — Moving furniture isn’t the best way to spend a spring day, but the student volunteers at the St. Anselm College annual food, clothing and furniture drive weren’t complaining.

“It’s the best thing we do on campus,” said Kellie Hennessey, a senior nursing major.

A group of 30 students picked up donations around campus for distribution to about 65 families in the Manchester area. By Thursday, they had collected 70 couches, 14 mattresses, 100 boxes of clothing and 50 boxes of food. The items were sorted in the Sullivan Arena.

“We get an array of things,” said student Bridget Garrity. “There’s nothing we turn down.”

The students worked with local agencies including Families in Transition, Manchester Child and Family Services and the International Institute of New Hampshire to find families who can use the items. Deliveries will continue to be made today.

A detailed list, right down to shirt size, is compiled for each household. The items are loaded into a U-Haul and delivered to the recipient’s door by student volunteers.

Delivery day makes all the work worthwhile, said Shaun O’Halloran.

“You walk into a house where people don’t have anything, and you provide basic needs,” O’Halloran said.

Occasionally, the recipients give back in surprising ways. O’Halloran recalls making a delivery last year in the team’s brightly colored T-shirt and leaving some toys for a boy and his sisters. The children flagged O’Halloran down later that day as he was making another delivery and left a hand-made note saying “Dear neon people … from the kids you gave the stuff to … thanks.”

Leftover items are donated to Makeover Ministries in Manchester.

The annual drive takes place during finals week, but the students make time to make the project a success. The extra effort is worth it, said Elizabeth Duffy.

“It’s nice to know somebody has a bed because you took five minutes to bring it to them,” Duffy said.

The drive was started nine years ago by students who realized the need in their own backyard and took action. It remains an entirely student-run program funded through donations. The students said they couldn’t do it without the support of the alumni, faculty and staff.

“That’s what’s so cool about the St. Anselm’s community, so many people step up,” O’Halloran said.

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