November 10, 2009 — It's time to think about brightening the holiday season for needy families in Charlottesville.
The Holiday Sharing program at Madison House, the student volunteer center at the University of Virginia, works with the Salvation Army every year to prepare a list of needy families. The program then asks sponsoring groups to gather donations of gifts and food for families on its list.
Student volunteers inventory and distribute the goods by mid-December. The deadline for signing up to be a sponsor is Friday.
Office groups often participate as sponsors, giving gifts, nonperishable foods and grocery-store gift cards to an "adopted" family. Families in need range from two to eight people.
"Every year we get more and more families from the Salvation Army and Albemarle Regional Migrant Education," head program director Chelsey Iaquinto said. "Sponsors are always needed. Especially with the economy as it has been, we are still in need of sponsors."
The estimated cost of putting together a package for a sponsored family ranges from $140 to $350, depending on the size of the family.
Another way to give is by stopping at one of the holiday trees set up around Grounds. The trees hold holiday ornaments naming a type of gift to purchase and donate to the program. These gifts – including items like gift cards, baby clothes, board games and cooking utensils – supplement packages provided by sponsors for each family.
Volunteers sit by the trees to solicit donors and answer questions. After a donor selects an ornament from the tree, a volunteer will record the pledge. The donor then purchases the gift and drops it off at Madison House.
The holiday trees, which will be on display until Thanksgiving break, are located at the U.Va. Bookstore, Observatory Hill Dining Hall, Runk Dining Hall, Newcomb Dining Hall, Clemons Library and the Law School.
Donations should be taken to Madison House, 170 Rugby Road, on Nov. 30, Dec. 1 or 2.