December 15, 2017
For three hours on the afternoon of Dec. 7, hundreds of WCU students, staff, faculty, and the public sat in circles on the floor of Sykes Student Union ballrooms, petting, cuddling, and cooing over 14 adoptable puppies from the Brandywine Valley SPCA. Each guest paid $3 to enjoy the canine company and help residents of the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center, who had lost necessary personal items such as hearing aids, dentures, eyeglasses, etc., in a devastating November fire.
Honors students Aria Swanson and Danielle Gendler, who volunteer at both the BVSPCA and the Barclay, organized the event. Archana "Archie" Chungapally, treasurer of the Honors Student Association, managed the event's logistics. The students raised $2,536.58 from admissions, a bake sale, refreshments, and raffles.
It was a win all around: Many of the Barclay residents will be able to replace their personal items; the puppies got some public exposure and some have found homes; and the students opened their hearts and wallets for the Barclay residents while decreasing their end-of-semester stress by enjoying the canine company.
Gendler is co-director of Traveling Across Generations (TAG), the Honors College"s community outreach program that connects students with senior citizens, and Swanson is a TAG member. For more than 10 years, TAG's primary outreach location has been Barclay Friends. The young women wanted to help in the healing process following the fire. Both called the Barclay residents their "adoptive grandparents" and both knew the four residents who lost their lives.
"Winter Puppyland" was so popular that the line was never fewer than approximately 30 people deep.