Igniting Lasallian workers appreciation in DTRE-led Christmas Drive Program

The spirit of unity and giving back livens within campus walls in the DTRE-led gift-giving program for ESPs.

Seeking to embody the spirit of Christmas and the Lasallian core value of zeal for service, the Department of Theology and Religious Education (DTRE) has made its Christmas Drive Program an annual practice of thanksgiving and camaraderie among DLSU’s many sectors. The initiative, which was in its 30th year, aimed to distribute noche buena packages to DLSU’s External Service Personnel (ESP) as gratitude and appreciation for their committed service in the University.

“We would like to ensure that the ESP and their respective families will have a pleasant noche buena meal this Christmas,” DTRE Officer in Charge Chairperson Dr. Dorothy Javier-Martinez explains.

Every December, the DTRE leads a gift-giving initiative to thank ESPs for their service all year round.

Noble deed of giving

Dr. Ricardo Puno, among the drive’s pioneers and long-time project head of the Christmas Drive Program, recounts how the initiative was sparked by his participation in the relief operations of the University for the victims of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo back in 1991.

During DLSU’s preparations for the relief operations, Puno shares how he observed the hard work of the ESPs in helping to mobilize the relief goods. This dedication to the operations and the Lasallian community in general, according to Puno, pushed him and his colleagues to begin a charity drive for the ESPs.

“While we were trying to extend help doon sa victims ng Mt. Pinatubo…dito sa Pamantasan natin mismo may mga marginalized din, mainly ‘yung janitors, security personnel, maintenance. So, it occurred to us that, indeed, we should extend charity to others,” Puno says.

(In the University, we also have members of marginalized sectors.)

Puno and his two friends started their first outreach by giving out goods to 40 gardeners, made possible through the support he solicited from his students and three faculty members. From the Christmas drive’s humble beginnings, the initiative has now evolved to become a full-fledged departmental activity for the University, with other faculty members, employees, students, and parents all joining the cause.

Gratitude for the overlooked

Lasallians over the years have been able to share their love and compassion to others through the spirit of giving. Karol Steven Villacarillo (I, BS-ChE) expresses how his willingness to donate stems from his gratitude and respect for the ESPs. He hopes that this simple act of kindness may show his appreciation for the ESPs’ service to the community.

“The ESPs, in my opinion, are the least appreciated people on our campus. Without their dedication and commitment to their work, our campus would not be as safe, clean, ordered, secured, and maintained as it is.” he shares.

John Emmanuel Ragodon (I, BS-ChE) has also been on the receiving end of the kindness of the University’s service personnel. He narrates how a guard jokingly encouraged him to study at the University during his admission process, where he felt warm and welcomed.

“They really brighten up the heavy and academic environment the school has, and I wanted that culture to stay and continue to impact incoming froshies like me,” he remarks.

Puno recalls how students would sometimes volunteer to help sort out and keep track of the inventory of goods throughout his years of service.

May mga estudyante na, on their own, would tell their faculty na, ‘Ma’am, or Sir, pwede po bang makatulong kami sa pag-aayos ng mga ‘yan?’ Kaya, paminsan-minsan, may mga estudyante over the years [who come] in the afternoon to sort out goods received during the day, including the inventory,” he recounted.

(There are some students that, on their own, would offer assistance.)

Solidarity in adversity

Students have been aware of the effects of growing inflation that have impacted the livelihood of Filipinos and how preparing noche buena has become burdensome to many. Ragodon hopes that his donation aided ESPs in lessening their financial woes in preparation for their Christmas dinner.

“With the rising prices in the market and [other] contributing factors, not everyone experiences Christmas at its fullest, especially in the Filipino culture of handaan during the Christmas season,” Ragodon explains.

Puno assures the successful reception of the ESPs of each Christmas Drive since its implementation. He notes how the ESPs have expressed how “they are no longer apprehensive…to have nothing on the table” for noche buena, underscoring the initiative’s importance.

“There is no other complete way by which the La Salle community, faculty, parents, and students are able show that concern, love, and appreciation for our ESPs other than during Christmas, especially the Christmas Drive among other things. ‘Yon ang mas importante, [ang maipadama] natin ‘yan sa kanila,” Puno says.

Carla Duka

By Carla Duka

Christopher Go

By Christopher Go

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