Archive for Tuesday, December 23, 2003

BU gets into holiday spirit by helping families

December 23, 2003

Baker University students and faculty have spent the last few weeks Christmas shopping -- for complete strangers.

Through the Douglas County Salvation Army, Baker participated in Adopt a Family and the Angel Tree, two programs to help underprivileged families enjoy the holidays.

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"I think for everyone, it's really rewarding to be able to help people for Christmas," Stacy Cohen, Baker's director of public relations, said.

The university has worked with the Salvation Army at Christmas time for several years. Judy Forney, pastor and administrator at the Douglas County Salvation Army, said the organization relies on groups like Baker to help this time of year.

More than 400 families needed assistance from Salvation Army in purchasing gifts this holiday season, and, as always, she said, the support from the community was there.

"We have found the Lawrence area, Baldwin especially, has been very supportive," Forney said. "We're always amazed at how generous people are."

One of the gift assistance programs offered through the Salvation Army allows families to be adopted by groups or organizations.

Cohen said seven Baker groups, including several university departments, chipped in to purchase gifts and food for their adopted families.

"It was really from the president on down to faculty, staff and students," she said.

Each group was given the family's wish list and, she said, purchased one gift and one clothing item for each member of the family plus a gift certificate for groceries for the holiday dinner.

Cohen said the groups that participated were generous with their shopping.

"We were really able to give them some neat stuff," she said.

Items purchased included everything from roller blades, train sets and video games to cookware and winter coats.

"It really was a mix of things," she said.

Baker also helped the Salvation Army by participating with the Angel Tree, a program that benefits the organization's toy store, which allows parents to select Christmas gifts for their children.

Susan Hoffman, Baker's director of student activities, said students and faculty selected from more than 100 angels containing the children's wish lists.

She said a variety of gifts, including everything from clothing items, skateboard and art supplies, were purchased for children ranging from infants to teenagers.

Hoffman said a number of gifts were able to be purchased for the children, even though Baker students often don't have a lot of money.

"People really have generous hearts," she said.

Though college students often don't have a lot of money, Hoffman said, Baker has continued to find a way to give to the Salvation Army each year.

"Our students think about people other than themselves," she said. "I think they find this as a way to really help out and give people the Christmas spirit they already have."

Cohen said she believes Baker students and staff feel they, in return, get something from helping others.

"I think for everyone it's really rewarding to be able to help people for Christmas," she said.

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