By Carolyn Edelstein ’10 GS
Members of the Princeton community were in festive spirits at the Woodrow Wilson School’s sixth annual public service auction Dec. 16. Nibbling on holiday desserts, guests milled around tables in Robertson Hall’s Shultz Dining Room adorned with autographed books, handcrafted statues, and imported silks. For the third consecutive year, the event supported the Greater Donnelly Neighborhood Initiative, a nonprofit organization that runs programs for at-risk youth in the north Trenton area.
Graduate student Jennifer Onofrio spearheaded the organizing team of two dozen Wilson School volunteers. Students also donated goods and services, including private language lessons, catered three-course meals with wine pairings, and five hours of chauffeuring. A lunch with Dean Christina Paxson sparked at least one inter-class bidding war. Graduate student Kevin Smith brought his cowboy hat and Kentucky twang to his role as auctioneer.
The event raised $15,700, more than $2,000 above the previous year’s total. The Greater Donnelly Neighborhood Initiative will apply the full sum to its programmatic funds. GDNI grew out of a U.S. Department of Justice “weed and seed” anti-crime program begun in 2007. Wilson School graduate students have volunteered with the group since its inception, as tutors for elementary school students, mentors in the Team Hope boxing program, and as founders of the Greater Donnelly Bike Works program. “It’s an important relationship, for GDNI and for us students,” explained Onofrio. “We have become more than just volunteers who show up one day and are gone the next.”