Campus, News

Angel Tree Program spreads joy to Boston-area families in need

To spread the holiday spirit, Boston University’s Community Service Center is helping dozens of low-income families afford gifts during the month of December.

“Not everyone is fortunate enough to have basics, let alone open presents during the holidays,” said College of Communication senior Amey Owen, the program manager of the CSC. “While this is not a traditional volunteering opportunity because it does involve money, it’s a great way to show thanks and gratitude.”

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program is one of several holiday-related projects that the CSC has planned to participate in during December. Students will also volunteer in the Arlington Boys and Girls Club  Christmas tree sale on Dec. 4 and at the Winter Wonderland with the Joining Hands and the Siblings programs at Dec. 10.

Owen said that the Angel Tree Program is a program where each volunteer adopts a family in need to buy gifts for through the family’s holiday wish list.

Nina Burke, the One-Time Event Coordinator for CSC, said she hopes that the gifts, due in to the CSC by Dec. 5, bring joy to the families throughout the holiday season.

“[Since] many of these families cannot afford to purchase gifts for their children, this event allows the BU community to spread some holiday cheer into the lives of parents and children,” Burke, a graduate student in the School of Public Health, said.

Owen said that a lot of families also rely on the Angel Tree program for winter necessities.

Families who request clothing for the winter will be provided with coats, hats, gloves and other items through the Angel Tree Program, Burke said.

BU students, organizations and offices that are interested can also be assigned a family to shop for this holiday to help the community nationwide, Owen said. The CSC signed up to provide for 30 families and hopes to have all of the families’ wishes fulfilled.

“We are proud of how well we have done so far, but I think we have about five families left, so there is always room for the BU community to jump in,” she said.

The Christmas tree sale, which the CSC has collaborated on in previous years, Owen said, sends proceeds to youth programs.

“We have had this partnership for many years and are excited to help out once again,” she said. “We would like to fulfill six volunteers for every [time] slot. It’s a great time to get to know people at BU and help a great cause.”

Lynda LaFratta, the program administrator of the Arlington Boys and Girls Club, said that she relies on groups like the CSC to make the fundraiser a success.

“This, unlike any other fundraiser, is purely driven by volunteers,” LaFratta said. “Therefore, we rely on the Arlington Boys & Girls Club community as well as surrounding communities to make it a success.”

BU students planning to host families as part of the CSC and Angel Tree Program this holiday season are excited for the prospect.

“I think it’s important that we really reach out to the Boston community because everyone’s looking for joy, love, support and all that good stuff this time of year,” said Kristely Bastien, a senior in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

COM sophomore Yasmeen Safadi said that the “heart-wrenching” stories she hears of families in need cause her to feel it’s her responsibility to help out with the CSC.

“I read an email about a woman who had three children but only two coats for them,” Safadi said. “How can someone hear a story like that and not feel bad and not feel like they have to do something?”

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