More than 75 dorm residents at TWU can’t be home for the holidays due to pandemic-related travel limitations.
So two Langley churches, along with TWU parents, have stepped up to provide encouragement to homesick students, by way of care packages.
Janice Nikkel, director of the parent and family network at TWU, specializes in campus community care.
Along with a team of volunteers, she runs a gifting service for students called “Touch of Home.”
This winter, she faced a challenge.
“How could we show some extra care for over 75 students who aren’t able to go home for Christmas?” she asked.
Serendipitously, across the neighbourhood in Fort Langley, the team at Fraser Point Church had similar intentions.
Eilesha Raimondi, a leader from Fraser Point, said that her church wanted to reach out to the community, but were not sure how best to do so in this particular season.
“We were looking for ways to spread hope and joy in a very uncertain and tough season in our community,” Raimondi said.
Through a church member who is on staff at TWU, Raimondi met Nikkel, and an idea was born.
“We reached out to TWU to see if there was a way we could come alongside students this season and let them know they are seen and loved,” Raimondi said.
“We decided to create boxes for the students that met the needs Janice had put forward, as it is tough to be away from family over the holidays and to be on campus in the midst of so much unknown.”
Together, Fraser Point Church and TWU packaged 75 gift boxes for students who couldn’t return home for Christmas.
The boxes contained a $25 gift card for groceries, Fraser Valley Gourmet Toffee, photo props, the Christmas story, and other thoughtful mementos.
As well, every single student received a hand-written card that was addressed especially to them.
And then, there were more happy surprises.
Becky Husbands, wife to TWU president Mark Husbands, brought a tray full of freshly baked cookies, individually wrapped with wax paper and ready for contactless pick-up.
Volunteers from Living Waters Church in Fort Langley also contributed bags of Christmas baking.
Jericho Cui, a third-year international studies major, picked up his gift box on Dec. 16.
Cui has been unable to travel home since last year.
“It was a blessing to me,” he said, upon receiving his gift, “and I am sure that other students who are staying on campus for this very special Christmas would think the same.”
“It is going to be a unique Christmas this year, but it will still be as special and lovely as any other year, with blessings from friends, family, Trinity community, and God,” he added.
Raimondi said, “It is a privilege to be able to serve and come alongside students in our community to spread some hope and love this season.”
Nikkel expressed delight to see the local community lean in to show care for the students.
“Our students are a valued part of our community. We know it has not been an easy year, and to be away from their families this Christmas is especially hard. These gifts were just a small way to show we care and they aren’t alone.”
Is there more to this story?