By Nicole Kobie
The true spirit of Christmas is kept alive and well on campus through the Adopt a Student Family program. Run by the Campus Food Bank, the program allows sponsors to help other student families in need.
Though this is only the second year Students’ Union Volunteer Services, which runs the food bank, was involved, this program has been helping families for over 20 years.
"[It’s] basically for students to get help if they’re struggling," said Program Coordinator Adrienne Willott.
Sponsors, who can be clubs, departments or individuals, provide the goods for a happy holiday to people who could not otherwise afford them.
"On the application for the families, they are asked what gifts they would like," said Willott. "We try to suggest the gifts be small; [sponsors] don’t have to do the entire ‘under the tree’ thing."
Christmas dinner is already covered, as the food bank supplies a food hamper to the families, but sponsors are not limited to presents.
"It’s really the gifts that they’re really still in need of," said Willott. "[Sponsors] can give gift certificates as well, if they like, or any kind of decorations."
Last year, 28 families were helped; more sponsors are expected this year.
"Personally, I’m expecting 40 this year," Willott said. "Last year it wasn’t advertised as early or as well."
Increasing numbers of students are also going to the food bank for help.
"Since the food bank’s inception they’ve started tracking the amount of hampers sent out and it’s increased," said SU Vice-president External Nassr Awada. "It’s either one of two things. It’s a question of either a larger problem with hunger on campus… [or] the advocacy role of the food bank and it being able to get its name and its message out."
On the receiving end, there are no criteria for a family to be supported, but preference is given to ones with younger children.
"I’d like to stress that families don’t have to be completely broke to be sponsored because it is a tough time of the year," said Willott. "It’s a hard step to come and ask [for help]."
For other struggling students, with families or not, a Christmas Dinner Kit is available at the food bank from Dec. 6-20.
Applications to sponsor or be sponsored are available at the Campus Food Bank in room 144 of MacEwan Hall, or call 220-3092.