Adopt-A-Family: Kids say it all

Kids explain what they love about the holidays and why they are important

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by Isabella Mahal

Beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 14, families from the Fort Collins community began filing into Fossil Ridge High School’s media center for the annual Adopt-A-Family celebration. As a result of months of work by Student Council and weeks of gift-bringing by the Fossil students, each family was served dinner, got to meet Santa Claus and Fang, could complete seasonal crafts, and left the school with a bag of holiday gifts.

The night was filled with smiles and squeals of delight. A fire crackled on the SMART Board screen, and musicians from Fossil’s band and orchestra programs performed holiday classics. As described by Tyler, whose family attended the event, the holiday season is, “about spending time with your family, and singing, and spending time with each other in the mornings.” The event hoped to give families that time to spend together.

Each year between the end of November and the beginning of December, each advisory class at Fossil is assigned a family or two by Student Council, who does the majority of the planning for the event. The class is responsible for contacting their family to find out when they would like to pick up their gifts and to clarify any questions about what the family hopes for for the holidays. Each class is also provided with a list of the names and ages of the children in the family and a copy of their wish lists. Then, over two weeks, students and teachers buy gifts for their family and wrap them with their class.

The day of the event in Advisory, classes put the finishing touches on their wrapping and then packed their gifts into bags. Each class sent representatives to the media center with the bags, which had designated spots by family all over the space. As gifts began filling the library, StuCo volunteers transformed it into a Winter Wonderland, complete with snowmen, twinkling lights, and tables covered with festive paper.

By 5:45 p.m. that evening, meanwhile, the media center contained over fifty student volunteers. Each were given a specific task – while some students prepared to serve food to the families, others prepared craft tables for kids, featuring crafts like, “Build-Your-Own-Snow-Globe” and “Decorate a Cookie.” Other volunteers were assigned to leading families to their gifts, and the mood in the school was filled with anticipation and good cheer.

Upon their arrival, each family checked in with a member of Student Council, who then directed a student volunteer to take the family to their gifts. Volunteers helped families carry their gifts to their cars, then led them back inside to the media center, where pizza and soup were served for dinner. Kids had the opportunity to make crafts and watch holiday movies. Santa Claus was in attendance and was happy to pose for family pictures by the tree, while Fossil’s own Fang and Fang’s Helper walked around the media center and dispensed plenty of hugs.

Fossil community members in attendance all had different reasons for loving Adopt-A-Family. For Jacquelyn Lukasik, co-committee head of the event for StuCo, it was, “seeing all the gifts come in from every advisory… to see this amazing thing that all these high school kids did to make the holiday season of all these families.”

Melak Senay, another volunteer, was working at a craft table and helping kids for the night. He believes that it is really important to, “let kids who don’t necessarily have a family who can provide the gifts come here and have a great time.” Additionally, he described meeting a young boy at the event who emigrated to the United States from Mexico, describing that he and the boy, “had a really lengthy conversation, and he really reminded me of me.”

Ultimately, those connections are what Adopt-A-Family is about. Alex Oberto, one of two StuCo teachers, explained that, “I love how much advisories get into it. I think that’s my favorite part, is seeing how excited students get to give back.” At the event, students got to meet the families and the children that they provided gifts for. Making the connection between helping someone and seeing the smile on a child’s face during the holiday season encourages students and the community at large to be kinder to one another every day. As Senay put it, “it makes us closer as people and humans, because when you don’t show compassion in life, there’s really no point.”