Chancellor's Friday Letters

Kindness pours in

Kindness pours in

December 17, 2010

Dear Friends,

At this time of year, stories of kindness and generosity by people on campus and in the community pour in faster than the holiday greeting cards.

This kind of good news is so gratifying and inspiring.  Indeed, many acts of kindness are organized by groups on campus:

  • Physical plant employees delivering groceries and gifts to needy families.
  • Staff and students contributing to City of Riverside programs that provide food to the needy, and conducting several toys drives for poor children.
  • Staff Assembly collecting grocery store gift cards for re-distribution amongst UCR staff in need for the holiday season.
  • Guests to events at our residence this month bringing more than 550 pounds of food, which we in turn have distributed to the Riverside community.

  • Guardian Scholars assembling donations and gift cards to provide needy students who are “aging out” or “emancipating” from the foster care system with emergency funds over the holidays.

  • La Familia de UCR collecting clothing for homeless LGBT youth.
  • Honors students adopting second graders in a needy school and not only helping to fill their gift wish lists, but spending time with them, reading and talking to them about the importance of school.
  • And a group of student groups making pillows and holiday cards for children at Loma Linda Hospital.

In addition, many, many unsung individuals performed acts of kindness to students, colleagues or acquaintances who are alone or in need during this holiday season – a season so characterized by togetherness and community.

The drive to gather and to give to one another – especially to those who have less – seems to be a core human instinct.  It shows up in myriad cultures and religions, many of which we celebrate on this campus because we have the privilege of sharing a wealth of backgrounds, experiences, and nationalities.

The lighting of candles and helping those less fortunate is a recurrent theme in many cultures and faiths.

Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah are among the most familiar faith-based events in December.

Christmas is celebrated by Christians as well as many non-Christians, and commemorates the birth of Jesus.  It is often accompanied by lights and candles in churches and many communities, as well as giving to loved ones and helping those in need.  One of the most spectacular Festival of Lights in California is at the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside… a wonderful gift from the Keepers of the Inn, Duane and Kelly Roberts, and a must see for people of all faiths.

African Americans celebrating Kwanzaa (from matunda ya kwanza, Swahili for “first fruits of the harvest”) light the seven candles in the kinara candelabrum.  Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by the lighting the nine candles, day-by-day, in the menorah, commemorating the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.

In November the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael in obedience to God, stresses that no impoverished person be left without an opportunity to partake in the traditional meal. A shared meal is commonly accompanied by the lighting of candles.

Another festival of lights, Diwali, celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists celebrates the victory of good over evil and urges celebrants to seek joy, togetherness and hope.  It further encourages the use of the light of higher knowledge to dispel all ignorance, a goal we share at UCR as we embrace our motto Fiat Lux.

In wishing you a joyous holiday and a wonderful New Year, my wife Karen and I ask as you join this season with family and friends, you also look out for those people around you who may be less fortunate, and in some fashion offer a helping hand.



Tim White, Chancellor

Share your thoughts: http://fridayletters.ucr.edu/leavefeedback

p.s. My next Friday Letter will be January 7th.

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