Campus generosity brightens holidays for 26 families

Campus generosity brightens holidays for 26 families

Holiday Service Project committee member Nancy Gadachy and friend. Photo by Ron Fitz

The UCCS community made a happy holiday possible for 26 families this year, providing gifts and food to celebrate the season.

Donations increased during the final week and the Kraemer Family Library’s Food for Fines campaign helped make the 2011 Holiday Service Project successful.

UCCS, as a whole, is to be congratulated for coming through again with donations during lean economic times, said committee co-chairs Sheryl Botts, program assistant II in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and Sherry McDonnell, financial assistant in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The co-chairs also praised the HSP committee members and other volunteers who put time and effort into collecting, shopping, wrapping, and sorting donation, along with seeing to other necessary details.

Committee members included Beverly Kiselich, program assistant I, Visual and Performing Arts; Carla Myers, assistant professor and access services librarian, Kraemer Family Library; Gudrun McCollum, library technician III, Kraemer Family Library; Heidi Schwab, general professional II, Financial Aid/Student Employment; Ian Smith, program assistant I, History, Philosophy and Humanities; Kerry Peterson, assistant professor, Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Kristina Woods, program assistant I, Physics Department; Kurt Johnson, director, Center for Homeland Security; Mary Lile, accountant I, Resource Management Division; Mary McGill, program assistant I, departments of Political Science and Geography and Environmental Studies; Nancy Gadachy, program assistant II, Student Health Center; Rosemary Kelbel, program assistant I, Sociology Department; Tish Fleener, program assistant I, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department; and Valerie McClinton, academic adviser, Student Success Center.

The Holiday Service Project for 2011 started the first week in October with an announcement from the co-chairs requesting volunteers, providing an overview of duties to be performed, and giving notice of the first HSP meeting Oct. 20. Later that week, Botts sent a request for nominations of families in need. By early November, families were selected and Botts announced that departments, clubs, other groups and individuals could adopt and provide gifts for a family. On Nov. 10 volunteers set up giving trees, cash contribution containers and Holidrop boxes across campus to receive donations until Dec. 7. On Dec. 8, volunteers and committee members brought all the food and gifts to University Center room 116. There, they divided the food and separated the gifts for each of the 26 families.

Botts said at first glance cash donations were down compared to last year’s contributions, totaling almost $1,000. Some cash contributions came in on the final day, after the shopping and gift card buying were finished. Botts said those funds will be used for next year’s holiday project.

Many of the tag ornaments from the giving trees were taken early in the campaign and the gifts to accompany them also arrived in the final week. Botts said most trees had almost all the tags taken and one tree was hardly touched. She said locations for the giving trees may be reconsidered by the holiday committee next year.

Each child in the adopted families also received books, Botts said. Barnes and Noble teams with the project each year to collect books for all the children involved. They collected five books per child this year to be given out with the gifts.

The project owes a great deal to the Kraemer Family Library’s Food for Fines program and to Carla Myers, who introduced the concept. Allowing library patrons to pay off fines with items for the food drive benefitted everyone involved and was well received. Library donations totaled approximately 1,500 cans, jars and packaged items, and the program will likely be repeated next year.

On Dec.9, all throughout the day, someone from each adopted family came to UC 116 to claim their wrapped presents and gift baskets. Committee members took carts piled with the goods outside to load in the recipients’ vehicles.

“UCCS always seems to make this work, sometimes at the last minute,” McDonnell said, “but the campus always seems to come together to help out.”