Cedarville University's AYO dance organization is partnering with Patriots of Valor to help homeless veterans in New Jersey this Christmas.

Dance Organization Reaches Out to Veterans for Christmas

by Natalia Kirychuk, Student Public Relations Writer

Through November 16, AYO Dance Company (AYO), 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 Flemington, New Jersey, and president of AYO, 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,” said Indyk. “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 Kentwood, Michigan, and secretary for AYO. “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 continued. “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 at 7 p.m. on November 16 and 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.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,193 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.