The smell of pancakes and holiday spirit filled the halls of the Memorial Union Sunday morning, Dec. 6., at Operation H.E.A.R.T.S.’s Breakfast with Santa event. Community members and students alike joined in the celebration which helped fundraise for the student organization.
Breakfast with Santa offered a variety of pancakes for $3, letters to Santa and a 50/50 raffle. The Photography Club collaborated with Operation H.E.A.R.T.S. to take free pictures with Santa that they will email to any who are interested. The local Hannaford and Walmart showed their support to the organization by donating food supplies.
Emily Whitaker, a fourth-year biochemistry student and President of Operation H.E.A.R.T.S., has been involved with the organization for all of her four years here at UMaine.
“Within the first hour, we had more people show up than we did total at our previous Breakfast with Santa event,” Whitaker said.
This is the second year that they have hosted this event, but it is the first time hosting the event at the university. In the previous year, it was hosted at Orono Middle School.
Operation H.E.A.R.T.S. is an acronym for “Hands on Educational Association Reaching out Through Service.” The medically-based service student organization is made up entirely of students who are interested in volunteering. Their goal is to complete a minimum of three volunteer projects every semester. They have traveled all around the state and the country complete these projects.
“We travel all around the state so we don’t just focus on one area. It gives our members some exposure to the diverse medical community right here in our state,” Whitaker said. “In addition to that, we travel out of state in the spring semester. In the past, we’ve been to Memphis, Tenn., Virginia and Philadelphia, and this year we’re going to Buffalo. We complete a whole series of volunteer projects the whole week we’re gone, so our fundraising throughout the year is focused on raising money for the travel costs.”
In their first year, the organization had over 50 applicants and 15 members were selected. Now, the group has about 17 members who love volunteering and getting involved in the community.
“It’s fun to reach out to the community too, and let them know what we’re all about,” Whitaker said. “It’s really fantastic and I’m impressed with the turnout this year.”
For those interested in joining Operation H.E.A.R.T.S., inquiries and applications can be sent to Emily Whitaker on FirstClass. Applications are accepted in the fall.