On Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, Merrimack celebrated the start of the holiday season with the annual Celebration of Light and Hope. The event – like so many others – was put on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the event was a welcome reminder of the joy brought by so many seasonal traditions at the College.
“The Celebration of Light and Hope is an opportunity for the entire Merrimack community – students, faculty, staff – to come together and celebrate the Spirit of Christmas,” said Fr. Ray Dlugos, O.S.A. “As we light our campus with festive lights including the annual tree lighting, the festival is a time to spark the joy and hope of the holiday season.”
This year’s Celebration of Light and Hope featured much of the community’s favorites from years past, including ice skating with the Merrimack hockey teams in Lawler Arena, hot chocolate and treats from Merrimack Dining Services and of course, the annual tree lighting on campus.
“The holiday season is a time of joy and tradition both at Merrimack and in our lives beyond the boundaries of campus,” said President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D. “While the impact of COVID-19 put many traditions on hold, the Celebration of Light and Hope is a special reminder of all the measures we have taken to keep one another safe, and how much our hard work has paid off to be able to gather safely once again with friends, colleagues and loved ones.”
The festival also featured carol singers, performances from the Merrimack acapella group Mackapella and a special visit from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.
Beyond the Celebration of Light and Hope, Merrimack traditions like the Hands to Help Holiday Toy Drive, took place from Monday, Nov. 15 – Friday, Dec. 3. The annual Toy Drive is a way for the Merrimack community to give back each holiday season, donating gifts to families in need of support.
This year, the Merrimack community donated over 200 toys, 118 clothing items like hats, gloves and pajamas, $250 in gift cards and $100 dollars in cash. Items were distributed to over 100 children in 39 families through the Hands to Help office on Friday, Dec. 17 – just in time for Christmas.