A tradition that dates back to the fire of ’51
This January 30, the Mount will close its classrooms in honour of Caritas Day, a day that is dedicated to giving back to our community. Established by the Sisters of Charity, the holiday pays tribute to the community response given to the school following a fire that destroyed the university’s only on-campus building in 1951 (Photo shown at left).
“I’ve heard many stories about the history of the Mount and how Caritas Day came to be. If it weren’t for the generosity and hospitality of our community after the Mount burned down, we wouldn’t have a school today.” – Rebecca Skinner, Mount Student
Community giving, social justice and volunteerism are all traits that are strongly attached to the Mount. Each day there are examples of students, staff and faculty making a difference both close to home, and abroad. Caritas Day celebrates these actions, and gives everyone with the school the option to take the day-off to focus on community organizations on campus, and the surrounding area, that require aid.
“Caritas Day gives students the opportunity to volunteer while learning the history of their school. Faculty and students work together, getting to know each other on a whole other level.” – Dr. Peter Mombourquette, Chair, Department of Business, Tourism & Hospitality Management
Several years ago, Dr. Peter Mombourquette, Chair of the Mount’s Tourism & Hospitality Department engaged the faculty and students within his department to take part in a number of initiatives on Caritas Day that would benefit local organizations. One of these initiatives was collecting food for the Mount’s ownfood bank, a service that Dr. Mombourquette feels is invaluable on campus. “Students who need help often don’t want to identify as needing this type of resource,” says Mombourquette, noting that many of the students who require assistance from the food bank are young adults who have come to the school in order to build a better life for themselves, but are struggling to meet the costs of living. “By having this service on campus it makes it easier for students to seek that assistance.”
In addition to collecting food for the campus food bank, with excess food collected going to Feed Nova Scotia, members of Mombourquette’s Caristas Day team also work with the Sisters of Charity on campus, making sandwiches and cookies to bring to a local shelter. This year, students and faculty will also be conducting a blanket drive for Phoenix House.
“With the Mount’s roots in charity, and giving back, it just seems appropriate to me that we continue to celebrate a day to make a difference.” – Rebecca Skinner
Rebecca Skinner is a third year Business Administration student at the Mount, majoring in Marketing. An executive member of the Business & Tourism Society, Rebecca is taking a lead role in the planning for this year’s Caritas Day events. “I have been involved with Caritas Day activities since my first year, so this will be my third Caritas Day spent giving back,” says Skinner. “Once again I’ll be involved in the food drive, which I have really enjoyed the past two years as our group always has a lot of fun getting outdoors and making a difference for our on-campus community.”
“I think students see how small gestures, such as giving a morning of effort, can produce large social benefits.” – William Murray
Business & Tourism department faculty member, William Murray has been impressed with the impact Caritas Day has made on students, “I think students begin to understand the benefits of being responsible social citizens both intrinsically and seeing how their time helps others. So often we live in our routine bubbles, perhaps not appreciating that our friends, neighbours and community members are in need,” says Murray. “Events such as Caritas Day allow the students at the Mount to gather en masse and do something impressive, not for their personal gain but for the benefit of others. I have seen students see this value and continue the energy and effort of giving beyond this one day.”
To learn more about how you can support the organizations mentioned within this profile, please visit their websites listed below:
- Mount Food Resource Centre http://mountstudents.ca/your-union/services/diversity-centre/
- Feed Nova Scotia www.feednovascotia.ca
- Phoenix House www.phoenixyouth.ca