Bulldogs Spread Cheer with Annual Holiday Gift Giving Initiative

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale student-athletes and Boola the Bulldog visited Augusta Lewis Troup School on Friday, Dec. 10, to distribute gifts collected through the Yale Athletic Department’s annual Holiday Gift Giving Initiative. The initiative pairs Yale varsity teams with needy families, and this year the Bulldogs achieved a 100% participation rate -- every varsity team took part.

“The Yale athletic teams are to be commended for their generosity and thoughtfulness once again with their holiday gift giving program,” said Richard Kaliszewski, principal of Troup School. “Their commitment to ensuring that the children in more than 30 families received gifts from their wish list will make very many children happy this Christmas and give them something to look forward to.  This was an example of teamwork at its best!  The students and staff at Augusta Lewis Troup School wish each of the athletes a healthy and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

Each Yale team is given a “wish list” from a needy family, and the student-athletes then raise funds and shop for the gifts the children have requested. The gifts started piling up in Ray Tomkins House during the week leading up to the donation.

“When the gifts for the holidays giving initiative begin to pile up outside my office, I am always amazed by our student-athletes’ generosity and their commitment to the New Haven community,” said Alison Cole ’99, Assistant AD for Development & Community Outreach. “This program is the epitome of teamwork, selflessness and goodwill. I am truly honored to be affiliated with it and the students who make it happen.”

The gifts were loaded on to a school bus in front of Ray Tompkins House on Friday. Nine Yale students helped make the delivery: Emily Billing (sailing), Alfonso Costa (basketball and lacrosse), Kristen Forster (soccer), Michael Grace (basketball), Heather May (sailing), Jesse Pritchard (Basketball), Peter Spaulding (lacrosse), Talis Trevino (gymnastics) and Conner Youngblood.

“The Holiday Gift Giving drive is a great opportunity for the Yale Athletic Department, both students and administration, to give back to the New Haven Community,” said Costa, who is the chair of Yale’s Student-Athlete Community Outreach Committee. “Seeing the smiles on all of the families' faces brings true joy to everyone here at Yale. This year, we had 100 percent participation rate across all of the varsity sports teams, which is a true testament to the character of all our student-athletes and coaches.”

The Holiday Gift Giving Initiative is one of many efforts by Yale Athletics’ Thomas W. Ford '42 Community Outreach Program to get Yale student-athletes involved in the New Haven community. It has grown in size dramatically; there were just eight varsity teams participating in 2006, but this year saw all 35 contribute.