In the Holiday Spirit

Pile of Giving Tree gifts

Gifts provided by UNC students, staff and faculty fill an office in the University Center while waiting to be picked up by the local chapter of the Salvation Army for distribution to the children of needy families in Weld County. Photo by Barry LaPoint

Helping those less fortunate is a long-held tradition on the University of Northern Colorado campus. During the holiday season, it happens in many ways. From donating gifts to taking family portraits, holiday cheer is spread far and wide.

One of the longest-held traditions is the Giving Trees, a partnership between Student Activities Office’s Community Connections program and the local chapter of the Salvation Army.

According to Christy Harms, who coordinated the project on campus, trees were located in residence halls, the University Center and a variety of other locations this year. UNC students, faculty and staff added gift ideas printed on the trees’ paper ornaments to their holiday shopping lists.

“The main focus is to help our community by buying gifts for children in need,” Harms said. “We provided hundred of gifts and they continue to come in as the deadline nears.”

The Cesar Chavez Cultural Center and MEChA, a Chicano student organization, took a similar approach to holiday help by organizing an Adopt-a-Child program that provided gifts for 50 disadvantaged children in Greeley.

With all the donated presents from different efforts, help wrapping them was in high demand. Nu Alpha Kappa fraternity donated their time and helping hands to wrap the presents that were being turned in daily to the Giving Tree and Adopt-a-Child efforts.

While NAK was wrapping, the Black Student Alliance was camping. About 30 members camped out on campus over night to collect donations of holiday presents for homeless children and raise awareness of homelessness. The drive was so successful, BSA was able to give half the gifts they received to the Salvations Army and the other half went to the East Africa Community Center in Greeley. In-depth story with video

Holiday pictures can provide special memories over the years, so UNC’s photography club, Behind the Lens, took part in Help Portrait Day, a global movement of photographers using their time, equipment and expertise to provide free family portraits to low-income families. The pictures were taken, re-touched and printed by four photographers at no charge to the 128 participants.

The club had assistance from volunteers from various campus organizations ranging from Kappa Sigma fraternity to UNC Veterans Services to the Art Education and Theatre Arts and Dance programs. In-depth Greeley Tribune story

Delta Tau Delta fraternity addressed the need for clothing for the homeless residents of northern Colorado by hosting a clothing drive in cooperation with Homeless Gear. They collected hundreds of bags and boxes of clothing as well as daily-needed items such as toothbrushes and shoes.

In January, the group will visit the Guadalupe Center to prepare and serve food to the homeless people who rely on the center for their meals.

“As college students, we are incredibly blessed in so many ways,” said Oliver Tromp, the DTD’s philanthropy program chairman. “It’s a privilege to take small steps and give our time so that we can bless the lives of others who may not be as fortunate as you or me.”

- Brittany Sarconi

Editor’s Note:
Students aren’t the only members of the UNC community who get into giving during the holidays. Staff and faculty also have the spirit.

UNC’s Graduate School and Professional Administrative Staff Council are among the campus entities that participated in the Greeley Transitional House’s Adopt-a-Family program, providing clothing, toys and household items for local homeless families.

UNC’s organization for classified staff also showed its holiday spirit. Representatives of the State Personnel Employees Executive Council donated their time on two Saturdays to wrap gifts for the Santa Cops of Weld County program. Each year uniformed officers deliver donated gifts to approximately 3,000 children.

Students, faculty and staff in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences donated and wrapped 670 holiday presents for children in Weld County School District 6.