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Christmas program helps those in need

Alicia Smith | Friday, December 5, 2008

Students and faculty members, as well as clubs and organizations at Saint Mary’s, can “adopt” a family or an individual as part of the program and purchase Christmas gifts for them as part of the College’s 12 Days of Christmas.

During the 12 days, participants also raise money to donate to their families.

The program, run by the Office for Civil and Social Engagement (OCSE), began on Dec. 1 and will continue until Dec. 12.

“We adopted 15 families and 15 individuals,” Carrie Call, director of the OCSE, said. “Usually, we take about this number because we’ve found it’s manageable given the number of people at Saint Mary’s College involved and the amount of money we can raise. “

This year, the College adopted more families than usual, Call said, in order to “try and alleviate some of the pressing need that local agencies are experiencing due to the poor economy.”

Families were chosen from the Salvation Army, the College’s partner Title 1 schools and an organization called Grandparents as Parents. Some individuals came from Mental Health America and REAL Services.

Throughout the event, the OCSE is hosting multiple fundraising functions. Each residence hall will participate in a fundraising event called Penny Wars. Candy grams, T-shirts and mugs are also being sold during the 12 days. On Dec. 12, the College will hold a Craft Show and Sale, which will also benefit those in need.

Although the program promotes helping these families during the holiday season, there are also other events on the schedule, Call said.

“The event is not meant to be just about gift giving. It’s also meant to be an educational time to learn about traditions like Posadas and Kwanza and to engage in opportunities for spiritual reflection,” she said.

Each day there will be a different event that takes place at the College, such as a holiday dinner where children and residents from the Center for the Homeless will join the students for a meal. Other events include ornament decorating, vespers services, card decorating, bell ringing for the Salvation Army, gingerbread house making and a cookie decorating party.