Tis the season to be jolly and the U of C campus food bank is making that a reality for student families.
Adopt-a-Family is a city-wide program assisting families with limited resources during the holiday season. The University of Calgary campus food bank offers a variation of the program -- Adopt-a-Student-Family. Adopt-a-Student-Family gives students at the U of C with families the opportunity to give gifts to their children under the age of 18 at Christmas.
"It is a great program, especially for student families where it is a little bit more difficult," said Students' Union vice-president student life Jennifer Abbott.
The program ensures confidentiality for both the sponsors and the family.
"The Campus Food Bank is simply a middle-man agency in this special holiday program, facilitating the matching of U of C families with sponsors," said food bank coordinator Rob Aronson.
The program has 14 families participating in the program this year and 11 sponsors, with one of the sponsors donating to several families. Last year nine families and 10 sponsors participated.
"There has been no upwards trend or downwards trend in the number of participants," said Aronson. "It has been pretty steady."
The U of C program started in 1998 and ran off and on until 2005, when it became an annual event.
"With the sponsors, we have a lot of them asking about it before we start accepting applications," said Aronson. "We always have a faculty on campus or business coming to us saying 'We are ready to give.' "
Aronson thinks the program is crucial and a great way to get involved in people's lives.
The campus fitness centre has participated as a sponsor in various Adopt-a-Family programs in the city for the past seven years.
Fitness centre front desk manager Shiv Dave is excited about the opportunity to help out in the community.
"There are lots of unfortunate people right now who don't have jobs," said Dave. "Christmas time is a tough time for everyone so it is good to help people out."
The campus fitness centre is sponsoring a family in the north-east Adopt-a-Family program this winter season.
"Sometimes the campus ones get taken up," said Dave. "We have been rejected a couple times because there were no families left to adopt in past years."
Dave thinks it is a great way to give back to the community.
"Past years it has been fun because the staff get together and we go shopping for the family," said Dave.
The deadline to apply for the program was Nov. 29.
"We did two campaigns," said Abbott. "One to encourage people to adopt a family and one to encourage students to apply for this program."
Families looking for sponsors are never turned down for the program and there is no limit on the amount spent on gifts.
The campus Adopt-a-Student-Family encourages a maximum of three gifts per child.`
"It is a season of giving and no one should be left out," said Aronson. "It is just part of the nature of our operations. If we are giving everyday throughout the year, we definitely should be giving during this time in a special way."