Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman participates in Adopt-A-Family program

Illustration: Binta Loos-Diallo

This year, members of the Whitman community will continue the holiday tradition of bringing some joy to the lives of disadvantaged families in Walla Walla with the Adopt-A-Family program.  Although the program has been run without significant changes for several consecutive years, this holiday season will see some minor adjustments.

Since 2002, Whitman has partnered with the Salvation Army and Blue Mountain Heart to Heart to organize the event, which involves the donation of gifts from groups on campus to families in need. Though the basic premise and goals of the project are the same, the process of finding a family to adopt has been slightly altered.

Kelsie Butts, Whitman’s community service coordinator and the primary facilitator of Adopt-A-Family, speaks to the changes.

“This year we’re doing it a little differently in that we’re sending people directly to [the Salvation Army]. We made the decision that it would be better for students and faculty to adopt directly from the Salvation Army. It’s proved to be a little more successful as far as communication and getting people adopted quickly,” she said.

All families involved in the program are screened and then asked to put together a wishlist, which is sent on to the program’s participants. Gifts are gathered in the Health Center on Dec. 9 and are then checked over and wrapped with the help of volunteers from Kappa Alpha Theta and Phi Delta Theta. The deliveries are made through the partner organizations, and all recipients are anonymous.

Butts noted that there are other ways to participate in the program than just shopping for gifts, since the selected families often are in need of necessities as well.

“People have been asking to supplement in different ways. Other ways that people can get involved is to get a group together and collect money to buy grocery cards, or gift cards to Wal Mart, or some of the places in town that are often forgotten in gift shopping but often prove to [have] the most needed things,” she said.

20 on-campus groups signed up for the program this year. Participants range from on-campus clubs to dorm sections, as well as individual student groups and the families of faculty members. Butts said she estimated the total number of participants to be around 300. All families who signed up for the program were adopted.

“We’ve adopted close to 35 families, which is awesome,” said Butts.

Senior Julia Schneider, who adopted a family of three with residents of the Fine Arts interest house, said that donating to those in need is a longstanding holiday tradition for her. Schneider has participated in the program every year since coming to Whitman.

“Growing up, my family always participated in a similar program, and it was always one of my favorite holiday traditions,” she said. “I really like getting other people excited about getting presents for families in Walla Walla, and I think it’s a great way to support the community and celebrate the holidays.”

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