Lethbridge College will be sponsoring 34 families in the “adopt a family” program this year, including seven from the Students Association.
Adoptees come in here and fill out a form.
“Currently, we have 35 to 40 adopters that came forward by word of mouth over the last couple weeks. Everything is by word of mouth. In the past we’ve had about 50 to 60. It all depends on the year,” says J.P. Gentile, campus recreation co-ordinator.
“We try to bring in parents with little ones on campus, because they’re the ones struggling to feed their families. It’s tough with tuition and everything else. Student loans have run out or are running out.”
The adoptees come in and fill out a confidential form.
The Students Association gives out information to the departments and they go out and by the products to fill the hamper.
“These hampers are anywhere from three to five/six hundred dollars. When we hand out the gift baskets, it’s behind a curtain and nobody gets to see what is received in that box.
“It’s Christmas for us all year around here, but for students struggling, it’s a one-time thing,” adds Gentile. “It’s a lot of stuff for a one time deal.”
“Our hampers in the back are big Tupperware containers full of food, toilet paper and then we also go out and buy clothes for them a couple days prior to their (adoption) day.”
Adopters come to the (RAC) Recreation Activity Centre on the day before and drop off their hamper and then the students will come in the next day, be given a cue card and then once their number is called, pick-up their hamper.
“In the past, we’ve had people bring 13 or 14 boxes of a decent size and we’re just loading them up, one after another.”
The gift baskets will be handed out in two weeks.
“We went shopping the other day to fill the hampers and we spent over a $1000 on food alone.”
Each container will hold about $150 worth of food.
“When they open up the lid, there will usually be a $50 gift card for Wal-Mart, $50 to Canadian Tire, $50 to Safeway,” says Gentile.
A few people from outside the school help out. McKillop Church, along with other individuals that want to help out by adopting someone every Christmas.
The Students Association gives the adopters information about the size of the recipient, whether one kid, two kids, single, couple and see what they like and then they come in the day before the adoption and drop off the stuff at the RAC. Then the gifts are distributed the next day.
In the past, as many as 75 families have participated and what they did was set up a bunch of tables into The Barn, which was jam packed.
There is an increase in Lethbridge Hurricanes games, which may mean students are deciding to go out to the bars less, which may also explain why there are fewer adoptees coming forth looking for help. “Maybe things are still good, student loans might still be around, so fewer have looked for help this year,” says Gentile, speaking of the slight drop of total recipients looking to be adopted.
Gentile says that he’s been a part of the adopt a family program since he became part of Recreation Services 12 years ago and the program has been in place for about 15 years, helping families and students make it through tough times.
“Every department has a lot of people in them, so if each person gives say $10, it adds up.”
In each hamper, the Students Association includes an envelope telling the adoptee who provided the sponsorship and if they want to send their appreciation back, they can do that.
“We know they appreciate the gifts, when my helper and I are loading them up in the back of their vehicles and we see that twinkle in their eye, that’s what makes us feel good,” adds Gentile.
“We like to spoil the kids. We do it because it’s a good cause and we enjoy doing it. We have a lot of people that will come in and donate $1,000 anonymously.”