This upcoming holiday season, Texas Woman’s University will be hosting its annual Holiday Gift Program and will be a chance to help out those in need, but most of all spread the holiday spirit. In the program, the families that are sponsored are asked about their children’s names, ages, shoe sizes, clothing sizes, favorite colors and what gift their child may want.
The Holiday Gift Program is a long-standing program that has been around for over 30 years and serves as a way to support TWU student parents by providing gifts for children in need.
“We know how hard it is to be a student parent and going to school,” Meredith Maddox, associate director for the Campus Alliance for Resource Education, said. “Sometimes you don’t have a lot of income, and then providing gifts for your children can be really challenging. And about 15 years ago, [the program] got extended to commuter students too [and] now it is on all three campuses, Denton, Dallas and Houston.”
Student Services Program advisor Megan Alvina was sponsored by the Holiday Gift Program from 2016 through 2018. During that time, one of the gifts that were given to her daughter was an Easy-Bake Oven, and since then Alvina has become one of the sponsors for the Holiday Gift Program.
“There are times in everybody’s life where we are in different situations financially,” Alvina said. “We have a community here at TWU willing to help. Don’t feel ashamed [to ask for help], it is okay. The important thing is the smile on your children’s face [and] that is what is important, it doesn’t matter how it got there, the point is that they are smiling.”
According to Maddox, the Holiday Gift Program was started in the 1980s by former Director of Housing & Residence Life Nancy Murphy-Chadwick and since then has expanded.
“Chadwick wanted to start the program to provide gifts for children in need for student parents,” Maddox said. “It started with just family housing residents, students that lived on campus at the time, and [has expanded] to other student parents that live off campus.”
The Holiday Gift Program made a huge impact for both Alvina’s daughter and her son who was born in 2017, according to Alvina. During that time, she was able to receive the necessities her son needed through the program such as diapers and clothing.
“I was happy to see that he was comfortable,” Alvina said. “And then my daughter, she’s always been very appreciative. In the thank you cards, I remember thanking my sponsor and treating them as Santa, saying ‘Hello, my Santa. We really want to thank you for everything that you’ve given us.’ It was a great experience and they were happy with everything that they got.”
Clarise Tujardon can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.