UNE students spread holiday cheer in downtown Biddeford

Students in downtown Biddeford
Students gathered in downtown Biddeford to spread holiday cheer

About 30 students fanned out in downtown Biddeford this past Saturday to spread holiday cheer and brighten the city for residents and visitors. The students hung holiday lights up and down Main Street and put together gift packages for families in need.

“Seeing the lights up around town always just makes things better,” said Abbie Bernier (Neuroscience, 22). “It lifts people's spirits. With COVID and the pandemic, everyone has been a little bit down. The holiday lights seem to help people feel a little bit happier.”

The UNE Office of Citizenship and Civic Engagement sponsored the event in conjunction with the Heart of Biddeford, the sophomore class, and the UNE chapter of the Rotaract Club.

Gifts for the packages were donated by merchants who are members of the local Rotary club. Monetary donations were also given by local businesses and individuals. The packages will be distributed by Seeds of Hope, a resource center that offers hospitality and support for those who are struggling in Biddeford and surrounding communities.

“I feel that giving back to the communities is a big part of who I am and who I want to be,” explained Ari Catalano (Medical Biology, ’24). “The care packages were what I really wanted to focus on. A lot of people have been hit really hard, especially within the past year. I just want to give back the best we can.”

Students from the Rotaract Club, which is affiliated with the service organization Rotary International, made several blankets that were donated to people in need.

“Being part of UNE Rotaract on campus, we did a lot of service last year, but I felt we were not able to make a huge difference because of COVID,” stated Emily Birdsall (Medical Biology/Humanities, ’24). But with this event, we are able to get out and this feels like we are making a much bigger difference.”

Students string lights
Students help Jack Allsopp (Communications, '21) string lights on a tree
Students being interviewed
Abby Bernier and Ari Catalano interviewed by WMTW-TV
Students put together gift packages
Students put together gift packages for families in need
Student with blankets
Students from the Rotaract Club made blankets to donate