Campus holiday project helps bring Christmas to families

Dec. 3, 2012

April Wefler
[email protected]

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday kick off the holiday shopping season the day after Thanksgiving. Not everyone can afford to have Christmas, though.

Through the Holiday Service Project, which runs until Dec. 5, families that might not otherwise have gifts for Christmas are given food and presents for the holiday.

“Several years ago when I had nothing, a church reached out to me and gave me a monetary gift, and I was able to go out and purchase something for each one of my children so they could have a Christmas,” said Mary Lile, accountant and co-chair of the Holiday Service Project.

“I’ve just always believed in paying it forward – this is my way of paying it forward, being able to reach out and help others in need,” she said.

The annual Holiday Service Project started in 1989 after staff members decided they wanted to do more than office parties and chose to reach out to students in need. They decided to create something that involved the whole campus.

“Reaching out would create goodwill amongst students,” explained Lile. She added that when there was an emotional hardship that needed support, the program stepped in to help.

Several departments, clubs and individuals have chosen to adopt families. Last year, 26 families were provided with gifts and food.

Families can fill out requests for adoption as long as they keep the requests within the immediate family and request only two gifts per person.

They can also notate any culture or religion that they feel should be taken into consideration by adopters at the bottom of their request template.

On Dec. 7, the families are invited to come to campus to pick up their gifts. Although the program keeps the families’ identities anonymous, adopters can learn their ages, genders and the number of people in the family to help them know the appropriate items to purchase.

The project has several aspects. One is the Giving Tree, decorated in handcrafted ornaments created by children of the Family Development Center. Each ornament is attached with a tag, indicating a gift that may be purchased.

Remove the tag, purchase and wrap the gift written on the tag, attach the tag to the outside of the wrapped gift and return it to one of the Holidrop Boxes.

The Holidrop Boxes are used to collect food, clothing, toys and other items. Donations of dry food or canned food can help provide the ingredients needed for the family’s Christmas meal.

The Kraemer Family Library also has the Food for Fines program, which allows students to bring in non-perishable, unexpired food and have a $1 credit for each item they bring in.

Additionally, cash donations will be used to purchase a grocery store gift card for each family, with checks payable to UCCS Holiday Service Project.

“Whatever anybody wants to give,” said Lile.

Collection areas –

Holidrop Boxes

Main Hall, University Hall, Science and Engineering Building, Dwire Hall, Columbine Hall, Centennial Hall, Engineering Building, Family Development Center, University Center, Cragmoor Hall, Public Safety, the bookstore and the library

Giving Tree

University Center, Bookstore, Main Hall, Dwire Hall, Columbine Hall, University Hall


LAS Dean’s office in Columbine Hall, University Hall, the bookstore, University Center Information Desk, Dwire coffee counter, ENT, Clyde’s, Public Safety, Jazzman’s, the Bursar’s Office and the library