CEDARVILLE — AYO Dance Company, the dance organization at Cedarville University, is partnering with Patriots of Valor to collect items for Christmas stockings for homeless veterans in New Jersey.
The drive is a community outreach opportunity for the members of AYO, but residents of the village of Cedarville are also encouraged to pitch in. There is a collection box in the movement studio and at the AYO ticket table, both in the lower level of the Stevens Student Center.
Kaela Indyk, senior psychology major from New Jersey, and AYO president, was inspired to conduct the drive by her grandparents, who started Patriots of Valor, a New Jersey ministry to serve veterans. Her grandfather suggested the drive, and Indyk eagerly accepted.
“We were excited for the opportunity to serve in some way,” Indyk said. “It is important for everyone to get involved in serving others, whether it be locally, nationally or globally. We are called as believers to help those in need. When I heard of the opportunity, I was excited to ask AYO to come alongside and help in any way that they could, and I am excited to see the outcome of our collection.”
Requested items included travel-sized toiletries, soap, chewing gum, soft candy, adhesive bandages, socks, gloves, knit hats, stamps and blank envelopes, pencils, pens, writing pads, nail clippers and files, small LED flashlights and gift cards to pharmacies and Dunkin’ Donuts.
“The purpose of having an organization like AYO is to glorify the Lord through everything we do,” said Ashleigh Veltman, senior nursing student from Michigan, and AYO secretary. “Usually that comes through dancing in our semester showcases and in class every week, but this year we got the awesome opportunity to serve our veterans by participating in the veterans drive.
“My brother is actively deployed and I haven’t seen him in over a year,” Veltman added. “I know it means so much to him when people recognize what a sacrifice it is for those who served and are serving. I’m thankful for an organization that is willing to reach out to our veterans this Christmas!”
Items will be accepted until AYO’s showcase performance 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16-17 in the Cedarville Opera House. Indyk will take the items home to New Jersey for Thanksgiving, and they will then be delivered to Patriots of Valor. Patriots of Valor will use the items to fill Christmas stockings for homeless veterans in their area.