Christmas Day at Pitt returning after missing last year


Volunteers are needed for the return of Christmas Day at Pitt, which had to be canceled last year because of the pandemic.

“Christmas Day at Pitt has really grown into a widely anticipated holiday event by families, individuals, and those who many not have other opportunities to gather and celebrate the season,” according to Alex Toner, assistant director of Community Engagement. “We see the joy it brings our neighbors from across the city and region, which is why we’re excited to be able to safely resume this signature event this December.”

The annual Dec. 25 event is sponsored by the the Office of Engagement & Community Affairs, in partnership with Compass Group — Pitt’s dining provider — and the Salvation Army. The celebration at The Eatery in Litchfield Towers includes a warm holiday meal, along with gifts for children and new winter accessories for adults. In 2019, nearly 2,600 meals were served over the course of the day; no one is turned away.

This is the first year Compass Group will be providing the meal, since it took over dining services from Sodexo in 2020. Toner said Compass has agreed to continue the tradition.

Additional supporters include Dollar Bank, who will be sponsoring the adult hat and glove winter accessory drive, and Pitt Athletics, whose Dec. 12 men’s basketball game will double as a public toy drive for children.

Volunteers are needed in three shifts from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Christmas Day — 8:30 to 11 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m. — prepare and serve meals, set tables, prep to-go meals, distribute gifts and clean up the dining room.

More than 100 volunteers have traditionally signed up for this institutional Signature Day of Service. 

“It’s remarkable how so many in the Pitt community selflessly give their time and energy prior to, and actually on Christmas Day itself, to make the event possible,” Toner said. “From Pitt offices and departments donating gifts and Athletics hosting a toy drive and student athletes wrapping everything, our Pitt movers making sure everything is where it needs to be and Pitt Police providing security, to volunteer families who have been serving for years, and Compass Group and Pitt Dining staff offering all the trimmings, it’s truly a cross-institutional effort.”

Register here to volunteer. You can select a time, but roles will be assigned.

In order to foster a safe and healthy environment, the number of guests at each seating will be limited and more takeout options will be available. All volunteers will be required to wear a mask, in accordance with University guidelines. Families are invited to volunteer, but children must be 12 or older.

The Office of Engagement & Community Affairs also is accepting wrapped gifts for distribution to children during Christmas Day at Pitt and in support of other community partners. Contact Tami Hirth at to request gift tags for your office or unit. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 16.

Contact with questions.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


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