Twenty-one local families will receive presents their children requested during the holidays, thanks to a record-setting outpouring of support from SUNY Cortland students.
The eighth annual Adopt-A-Family event, organized by the College’s Residence Life and Housing Office, collected $9,300 for gifts in 2013 — roughly $2,000 more than the previous high set in 2012. The magnitude of the giving effort was visible at the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House Dec. 4, when students, staff members and alumni came together to wrap the hundreds of gifts that their donations purchased.
“I think it shows how much we care about the community,” said Kyle Shea, a senior physical education major and the student staff coordinator for the event. “It’s a lot of money, especially when you consider we’re college students and how much we have to give.”
Shea, a resident assistant in Smith Tower, praised the collective effort of the entire Residence Life and Housing Office 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.
The Bridges for Kids program run through the Cortland YWCA suggested the 21 families, all of which include three to six children.
Over the course of the fall semester, residence hall staffs raised funds in every way imaginable. Some resident assistants went door-to-door collecting loose change. Others offered up their faces to be hit with a pie — in exchange for a small donation from residents.
“You rarely ever get turned away by students,” Shea said. “Every penny counts and it seems like everyone knows that.”
Nearly as impressive as the amount raised was the art of giftwrapping that organizers had down to a science. Over the course of two, one-hour shifts, 142 students associated with the College’s Residence Life and Housing Office joined local alumni and staff members to wrap scores of presents.
SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum and his wife, Ellen Howard Burton, were among those who visited the Parks Alumni House to lend a hand and thank students.
“What’s really incredible is that students respond when there are children or a family in need,” said Cynthia Lake, the associate director for residence life and housing. “They connect with that.”
Shea agreed, mentioning that students often are willing to give more when they learn the first names and ages of the local children they are helping.
“It becomes real,” he said. “There’s an overwhelming sense of doing good. To be honest, it’s what has kept me smiling all day.”