Providing Holiday Hope

UNC Graduate School staff member Laura Hulsey wraps one of the gifts the office donated to Greeley Transitional House's Adopt-A-Family program.

From local children and families to victims of a natural disaster thousands of miles away, members of the University of Northern Colorado community took time out from the end-of-the-semester crunch to make the holidays better for others.

Here are just some of the efforts:

Giving Trees, one of the oldest and largest holiday traditions on campus, this year provided multiple gifts for 275 needy local children, courtesy of donations from UNC students, faculty and staff. Tags on special Giving Trees around campus were used to fulfill requests for gifts and clothing. The effort is coordinated by the Student Activities Office in cooperation with the local chapter of the Salvation Army.

The university community also supported Gifts for Little People, a program organized by the Cèsar Chàvez Cultural Center and two campus Chicano/a-based student organizations - Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán and Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority - to provide Christmas presents for dozens of disadvantaged children in Greeley.

For the fourth consecutive year, staff in the Graduate School participated in Greeley Transitional House's Adopt-a-Family program, providing wrapped Christmas presents for a family transitioning from homelessness.

Students in UNC's Honors and President's Leadership programs joined forces to write and send Christmas cards to U.S. military personnel stationed around the globe. PLP students also made Christmas ornaments for Children's Hospital and knitted and crocheted hats and scarves for distribution to the homeless by the Salvation Army and local fire departments.

UNC's chapter of the Association for Women in Communications' clothing drive collected coats, sweaters, warm clothing, blankets, hats, gloves, scarves and gift cards from Walmart or Lowes for residents of the East Coast affected by Hurricane Sandy.

In another long-standing tradition across campus, staff in offices with a colleague experiencing financial challenges during the holiday season organized collections of cash and gift cards, going to great lengths to keep the source of the help anonymous.

The newest holiday humanitarian project on campus took a similar approach. The inaugural Holiday Helping Hands was a joint effort of UNC's classified and professional staff councils. Nominations by co-workers identified six employees whose holiday season would be improved with a little financial help.

"Some were facing serious health issues and others had lost their homes due to foreclosure," said Jessica Behunin, chair of the Professional Administrative Staff Council. "Some are having to miss unpaid time at work due to personal issues. And some had experienced significant car troubles. We felt sympathetic toward each situation, and decided to disperse the funds evenly."

Donations of cash and gift cards from colleagues were used to put smiles on the faces of the six recipients and their families, just in time for the holidays.

- UNC News Service