A student smiles as she hangs lights in front of Biddeford's City Theater

Students bring holiday cheer, spirit of service to downtown Biddeford

The group carried out an annual tradition of helping illuminate the city for the holidays

More than two dozen University of New England students convened in downtown Biddeford on a cold but sunny Saturday afternoon to give back to their community and bring holiday cheer to the city.

Members of the Class of 2026 and students with the Office of Citizenship and Civic Engagement gathered on Nov. 11 to adorn tree-lined Main Street with white and multicolored lights, a tradition that has carried on for several years. The students partnered with Heart of Biddeford — an organization that helps to foster a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable downtown for residents, businesses, and visitors — to hold the annual event.

Groups of students fanned out across the downtown to hang lights at City Hall, upper Main Street, and Shevenell Park.

Inside, others decorated bags that will be distributed to neighbors at Seeds of Hope, a local community center that works to find poverty solutions. The bags will be used for toiletry items that the group plans to purchase after raising the necessary funds.

Sophomore Class President Lily Ann Noon (Biological Sciences, ’26) said it was exciting to engage her class in helping out their school’s community.

“Spending time outside of school to do service for others, especially in the town that we go to school in, is really important,” she said. “This kind of volunteer work is really important to me and my classmates.”

A female student wraps lights around the trunk of a tree in front of Biddeford's City Theater
A student hangs lights on a tree outside Biddeford City Hall
Two female students wrap holiday lights around the trunk of a tree in downtown Biddeford
Students hang lights on a tree in front of Biddeford City Theater
Students decorate paper bags inside the Heart of Biddeford office

All students enrolled in majors within the University’s College of Arts and Sciences are required to take a course in citizenship and civic engagement before they graduate. Alexandria Perry (Medical Biology, ’24), who is taking the course this semester, said she was glad to give back to the community she’s called home the past four years.

“I think it’s great for students to go out into the community and volunteer, especially during the colder months,” she said. “Some people don’t have the support system that many of us are lucky to have, and it’s important for us to be there for them. It’s really nice to put our energy into something for the people of Biddeford.”

Kayla Boutin, who is in her third undergraduate year of the Accelerated 3+4 Medical Biology-Dental Medicine Track, said students are eager to get involved with good causes as the semester draws to a close.

“Some people need help around the holidays, and we can help, so why wouldn’t we?” she said.

Read this story in The Courier.