When the residents of the Sherwood Court Apartments were driven from their homes by an arson fire six days before Christmas, the people of Penn joined in with their Spruce Hill neighbors to restore some cheer to the holiday. Director of Volunteer Services Bonnie Ragsdale and Community Relations Director Glenn Bryan delivered a van full of food, clothing and gifts for the holidays to the Spruce Hill Community Association's offices just before Christmas. The donations came from both the annual Penn Volunteers in Public Service (Penn VIPS) Holiday Gift Drive and an emergency appeal via e-mail from Ragsdale. Penn faculty, staff, students and alumni contributed five to 10 boxes each of food and clothing, according to Ragsdale. In addition, a cash donation made during the Holiday Gift Drive went to purchase new hats, gloves and scarves for the fire victims. Turkey dinners donated by the Penn Tower Hotel at Christmas aided some of the fire victims as well as others in West Philadelphia. Fire victim Mary Winkfield (pictured) received one of the dinners.
Originally published on January 28, 1997