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College community gives back through Adopt-a-Family program

| Wednesday, December 4, 2019

As Christmastime grows near, the Saint Mary’s community is gathering donations for the Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family program. Individuals and groups contacted the Office of Civic and Social Engagement to express interest in participating in the program and received the information for an individual who will receive their donations. 

Senior resident assistant (RA) Taryn Van Horn said she has been participating in the program since she was a first-year student and wanted to bring the tradition to her section.

“I have just kept doing it,” Van Horn said. “Since I am an RA, I included my section. Even when I was little my family would do it, too. Just giving back around the holidays, I was like, ‘Oh it’s a good opportunity, so let’s do it.’ I signed up my section as a program for justice and diversity to help residents know more about the community to help people in need during this holiday season.”

Van Horn said her residents have contributed greatly to the program in the past. She attributes this bout of giving to the holidays.

“A lot of residents get excited because everyone loves shopping, especially since it’s Christmastime so everyone likes giving people gifts,” she said. “There are organizations and clubs that are doing Adopt-a-Family. It’s kind of hard to get a lot of people to donate because they have something else to donate with.”

Campus organizations have been encouraging members to contribute to the program. Senior Sheridan Sims first heard about Adopt-a-Family through word-of-mouth.

“I heard about it through Lambda Pi Eta, the Communication National Honors Society and Dance Marathon, and I decided to participate to give back to the community, especially those in need,” Sims said in an email.

Participating in the program made Sims feel thankful for all she has during the holidays. She said this inspired her to donate.

“It is a wonderful way to help others in need and make them feel loved,” Sims said.

Adopt-a-Family provides an avenue for the Saint Mary’s community to connect to the greater South Bend community in which the campus is placed. By donating, Sims said she feels like she is applying what it means to be a student at the College by helping those beyond the tri-campus bubble.

“It reflects being a Belle because Saint Mary’s is a sisterhood where others look out for one another,” Sims said.

Similarly, Van Horn believes Christmas is the perfect time for the College’s core values to be applied to life beyond school. She said Adopt-a-Family is a great way to make sure these values become apparent.

“The four core values are community, learning, justice and diversity and faith and spirituality,” Van Horn said. “I feel like with Christmas, you get a really good experience with faith and spirituality because you’re celebrating the birth of Christ. Then the community comes together to give the kids these gifts, and then justice — you’re having students learn that there are people in need and having them have a voice. You’re just learning how you can be there for your community.”

Van Horn said passing the tradition of giving to other students is exciting and provides a way to get into the holiday spirit.

“It’s just a tradition; you just keep giving back,” Van Horn said. “When we’re little, we always want the gifts, but when we’re older, we always just want to give the gifts.”

Even if people aren’t able to give much, Van Horn still encourages anyone to give what they can.

“Every gift counts,” she said. “Even if you can’t donate a lot, just some small little thing will always be better than nothing.”


About Maria Leontaras

Maria Leontaras is a senior at Saint Mary's pursuing a student-designed major in Interactive Journalism with minors in mathematics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Maria used to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer when she wasn't busy tweeting about movies and One Direction.

Contact Maria