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Liberty News

Student-doctors give back with annual Christmas event for families

December 7, 2018 : By Tobi Walsh Laukaitis/Liberty University News Service

More than 80 Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) student-doctors took a break from studying to give back to the Lynchburg community during the second annual “Very Merry Gift-Mas” event on Friday night.

The event, hosted by LUCOM’S chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), was held at the Jubilee Family Development Center, a non-profit that helps at-risk youth to develop academically and socially.

Parents were invited to bring their children for a holiday celebration with catered food and games. While children played in the gym with student-doctors, parents shopped for Christmas gifts. New toys were donated by LUCOM students, faculty, staff, and the community and were sold for a nickel.

Second-year student-doctor and SNMA vice president Daryl Turner said the event was a great way to help those in need during the holiday season without making them feel embarrassed.

“I think it’s incredible that as student-doctors we can give back through an event like this,” Turner said. “Not only do we get to bring holiday cheer, but we also get to uplift our fellow man and care for them.”

Victoria Johnson, a second-year student-doctor and SNMA president, said the club is always looking for opportunities to partner with area organizations. Each month, SNMA members tutor students at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lynchburg.

“All of us come from different cultural backgrounds and have different experiences,” Johnson said. “As future physicians, that’s something that we need to take into account.  As health care providers, we should be exposing ourselves to the communities we serve because it will help us care for our patients better.”

Third-year student-doctor Angie Tseng agreed.

“I think it can be so easy for us to hide behind our white coats and forget about the responsibility we have,” she said. “We need to be out in Lynchburg bridging the gap and talking with the people we treat.”

Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy attended the event and visited with families and the student-doctors. She praised Liberty’s students for wanting to be involved in the community.

“We are so blessed to live in a community where our college students want to give back to the city they live in most of the year,” she said.

Tweedy said she welcomes more chances to partner with LUCOM student-doctors.

“Whatever they want to do, we want to be there to help,” she said.

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