Each year, students, faculty, and staff come together to support the Holiday Hope Project, organized by Child and Family Services (CFS). “The project serves CFS clients in need, many of whom have financial troubles, illnesses, disabilities or personal tragedies that have made it hard for them to provide for themselves and their families,” said Tamar Cunha, Science Teacher, who helped to organize this year's Tabor efforts.
That’s where the Tabor community comes in. “We get matched with families and individuals, and we help fulfill their needs through wishlists,” Cunha explained. The families share a little bit about why they need help for the holidays, and then each family member creates a wish list. “These lists include sizes for clothing, coat requests, and anything they need for the house. We then get to work on the wishlists. Typically, we provide gift cards for grocery stores, so they can have a big meal for the holiday, and necessities like winter jackets if they need them, household items, gift cards for gas stations, and yes, even fun gifts for the holiday season.”
In the past, Tabor groups would go out shopping together to check off the wishlists together, but this year, with COVID, most of the shopping was done online, via sites like Amazon. “Some of our groups were able to get together safely to do small wrapping parties, this year,” Cunha noted.
Then comes the organization of all the gifts. “We organized them by family, and we make sure every gift or item has a family number on it and the name of the individual, so we can check to make sure we have something for each person.” Cunha tries to make sure things are equitable among family members, to make sure things aren’t skewed in favor of just one child. “Some children only ask for one or two things, while another kid in the family will have this huge list, so we try to make things fair.”
The Tabor crew then loads up all the gifts and delivers them to CFS. “They have areas set up where we can drop off the gifts in designated areas for the individual families, so keeping everything organized is key.” Those that participate annually include various dorm groups on campus, departments, and advisory groups, as well as individuals who contribute.
Some people, like Director of Admission Marketing Laura Burgess, make participating an annual tradition, and this year, she got her advisory group involved, too. “With COVID restrictions on gathering inside in small spaces, we weren't going to be able to do our normal holiday tradition of making gingerbread houses together,” she explained. “Not to mention, four out of our eight advisees are international students and are studying virtually this year.”
So instead, they all agreed that they could change up the way they celebrate the holidays and participated in Holiday Hope instead. “This allowed our virtual students to participate, claiming items on our massive Google Doc and sending payment via Venmo, while those of us here on campus placed the orders online,” Burgess explained. “We were able to do the wrapping in stages in small groups, and we had a blast. We hope the family we sponsored is as thrilled on Christmas Day as we were preparing everything for them.”