Gateway's Annual Holiday Dinner Serves Up Holiday Cheer

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Each year, the faculty, staff and students of Gateway Community College join forces to make the holiday season a little brighter for others in the New Haven community by hosting an Annual Holiday Dinner for residents of area shelters. This year, the event was held on Friday, Dec. 12. Roughly 350 disadvantaged adults and children were bussed in to attend. 

The gourmet buffet dinner was prepared by the college’s culinary arts students and served in the festively adorned Community Room. Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted children and shared a toy. The younger children also were able to get their hands and faces painted. Children age 11 and older received a gift card to one of the major retailers such as Walmart, Rite Aid and Target. Adults were given a $10 voucher to Goodwill and health bags, gender-specific toiletry bags packed with items such as toothpaste and shaving cream, donated by Gateway faculty, staff, students and community benefactors.  

"We look forward to this every year," Gateway President Dr. Dorsey L. Kendrick said. "It's an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we are what we stand for—a community college interested in the welfare of the entire community."

The annual dinner is the brainchild of culinary arts professor Andrew Randi, who established the event 15 years ago at the college’s Long Wharf campus. The holiday tradition, one of the largest in the area, is coordinated by Barbara Rudolph, a nursing and allied health counselor for Gateway. It's hosted by volunteers from the GCC community that include faculty, staff and students who help with decorations, food preparation, food service, gift coordination and more. Orchestrating this enormous event requires countless hours of planning on the part of its volunteer organizers. No state funds support this event.

"We're very excited," Rudolph said of the experience. After many years of hosting the event, "we have everything well oiled. The Gateway family really pulled through."