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Photo of Wilma Gold and Christine Huff

Wilma Gold, director of Child Care Services, and Christine Huff, hold some of the Gift Trees. Each paper ornament includes a name and gift request. Louise Donahue

December 13, 2004

Campus gets into the spirit of giving

By Louise Donahue

All around campus, people are searching for the right gift for someone they don’t even know.

At Child Care Services, eight tiny Christmas trees were decorated with paper ornaments featuring a first name and a gift request as part of the Giving Tree project.

The names represent families of students balancing parenthood with classwork—all on a very tight budget--said Child Care Services Director Wilma Gold. Units across campus have been eager to help out.

“People are really thrilled to be able to give something to someone who needs it,” said Gold, who has watched the program grow steadily since she launched it three years ago. “It’s anonymous, yet it’s more personal, because it’s going to UCSC families.”

“I don’t think people necessarily realize what life is like for a student parent,” said Gold, “Life is really a struggle for these parents.”

Similar projects are under way across campus.

The Christmas Project, which concentrates on gifts for children and adults in farmworker families, also offers the chance to fulfill a specific request. “Everyone looks forward to doing it,” said Larry Trujillo, director of the Academic Resources Collaborative (ARC). Trujillo said he has participated in the program for about five years. “It’s a great project. We’re able to get kids bikes and things they could never afford otherwise.”

Trujillo said the Chicano student organization known as MEChA got involved in the project this year, raising money to buy “quite a few” gifts.

Over at Merrill Faculty Services, Patricia Sanders also works with the Christmas Project. “We had two gift trees and they’re gone already,” she said early last week, noting that those trees had a total of about 50 names.

Another annual drive is the Toys for Tots project run by UCSC firefighters. Bins have been placed at the fire station and police station and are expected to fill up quickly. Unwrapped toys may be dropped off anytime.

Donations also continue to be welcome for the Second Harvest food drive, even though the formal campaign has been completed. “The campus community can keep sending donations all the way up to closure time, December 23,” said Manuel Grijalva, UCSC Mail Services manager. “Keep sending donations of food or money, and I’ll make sure they get to Second Harvest,” he pledged.

Many students did their part by donating their meal plans and “flex dollars” to Second Harvest. For every dollar contributed, Second Harvest is able to purchase and distribute $9 worth of food.

Acting Chancellor Martin M. Chemers also collected donations for Second Harvest at his Campus Holiday Party on December 6 and the Family Hanukkah Celebration on December 8. The Kwanzaa Holiday Party on Monday, December 13, at the University House will take Second Harvest donations as well.

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