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College ‘Adopts’ 87 Families for Holidays

12/19/2013

College ‘Adopts’ 87 Families for Holidays

Although the SUNY Cortland campus is not located anywhere near the North Pole, every year the College’s faculty, staff and students work like Santa’s elves to ensure that no child in the region is deprived of the love, joy and wonder of unwrapping holiday gifts.

This year the spirit of generosity seems greater than ever, as the campus donated presents for approximately 271 children in 87 struggling families through three separate Adopt-a-Family campaigns:

• The campus Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), supported by a cross section of the campus community, roughly doubled the number of families it assisted previously in SUNY Cortland’s Migrant Education Tutorial and Support Services Program (METS, formerly MEOP). The drive generated gifts for a total of 58 families, each with three to six children.

• The College’s Residence Life and Housing Office, in its eighth annual Adopt-A-Family event, collected $9,300 for the presents — roughly $2,000 more than the previous high set in 2012. Proceeds will light the lives of 21 local families recommended by the Bridges for Kids program run through the Cortland YWCA.

• Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), the SUNY Cortland chapter of the international academic honor society in education, adopted eight families from Groton (N.Y.) Elementary School.

Institutional Advancement

At many a gift-wrapping party on and off campus, individual donors try to give their presents a warm and personal touch. Division of Institutional Advancement staff members recently spent a lunch break in Brockway Hall wrapping gifts for children in three families they adopted this holiday season.

“The Adopt-a-Family programs seem to be a natural expression of the College community’s overall commitments to well-being and the transformational education of its students through community outreach,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum. “These gift drives also underscore the institution’s traditional focus on education in the form of concern for the development of youth.”

CSEA Adoption Drive a Success

The CSEA campaign, coordinated by CSEA member Lori Porter, resulted in an outpouring of generosity from five sport teams; 42 CSEA, faculty and professional staff members, each of whom supported up to two families apiece; as well as the combined offerings from personnel in 11 College academic departments, offices, schools, divisions and the SUNY Cortland Auxiliary Services Corporation.

“This year there is a tremendous increase in terms of the contribution,” said Elizabeth Bliss, who directs the METS program. “It’s almost double the number of kids that they have adopted in the past. This just blew our minds in terms of the generosity this year.”

Distribution of gifts to the METS families began Dec. 13.

The METS staff has found that, in the current economy, its clients increasingly are tapping into community resources such as food pantries to meet basic needs.

“In many instances, these gifts are their entire holiday,” Bliss said. “The ease this gives the families for knowing their children are going to have something can’t be measured.

“We felt so embraced by the community this year,” Bliss said. “We were really overwhelmed. This is a wonderful opportunity to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of the children across the region who are able to have something this holiday season.”

Residential Students Support Cause

Kyle Shea, the student staff coordinator for the Residence Life and Housing Office’s drive, praised the collective effort of the RLH staff and the students who live on campus. Each of the College’s 17 residence halls adopted a family, with some larger residence halls taking on more than one set of children.

“I think it shows how much we care about the community,” said Shea, a senior physical education major. “It’s a lot of money, especially when you consider we’re college students and how much we have to give.”

Over the fall semester the students raised funds in every way they could think of. On Dec. 4, the drive culminated when 142 students and staff members and alumni gathered for a two-hour gift-wrapping party at the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House.

To read the complete story, visit the College’s news website.

Future Teachers Adopt School

Kappa Delta Pi co-presidents

The two Kappa Delta Pi education honor society co-presidents, Jennifer Barry of Hauppage, N.Y. and Rachel Kolod of East Syracuse, N.Y., showed the gifts received so far on behalf of Groton Elementary School children.

The KDP honor society students got involved with Groton Elementary School after the principal Tim Heller realized that — for the first time in recent memory  the many community organizations, families, volunteers and staff who regularly help the school’s struggling families would fall short.

“I think it’s just a commentary on the economic hardships the area is facing; the loss of jobs,” Heller said.

 In solving the dilemma, he tapped the Groton School District’s close partnership with SUNY Cortland’s School of Education.

The KDP co-presidents, both senior childhood/early childhood education majors, described their own traditions of giving.

“Every year my family adopts a whole family and our aunts, uncles and cousins donate to this instead of to us,” said Rachel Kolod of East Syracuse, N.Y.

“I’ve taken part in church events including the giving trees,” said Jennifer Barry of Hauppage, N.Y. “The constant feeling of giving is an encouraging feeling.”

They delivered the gifts to the school Wednesday, Dec. 11.

To read the complete story, visit the College’s news website.