When you think of the holiday season, what comes to mind first? Perhaps it’s spending time with family, or gathering for a meal with loved ones. Or maybe you think of receiving that gift you’ve had your eye on since September. For many people, presents are a central part of the Christmas season.
Now imagine your family not having enough money to celebrate the holiday season. Imagine celebrating Christmas without gifts or a big meal, solely because your family cannot afford it. Sadly, this is the reality for many families living belong the poverty line.
Every year during the holiday season, Leesville’s Spanish Club partakes in the Adopt a Family fundraiser through the Wake County Holiday Cheer organization. “The goal [of this fundraiser] is to help families who don’t have the ability to give their children a Christmas like a lot of us are accustomed to having,” said Senora Bouchard, Spanish teacher.
This year, the Spanish department at Leesville is raising money for 7 different Spanish-speaking families. “We had such great success last year, and raised so much money that we were able to adopt one family per Spanish class and then adopt one more on top of that,” said Bouchard.
There are a variety of families that receive the presents donated through the fundraisers, all of which are Hispanic or Latino. “Most families have two or three kids, boys and girls, with ages ranging from six months old to fifteen years old. I’ve spoken to all the families and they’re all really appreciative of what we’re doing and they seem like really great people,” said Bouchard.
Each Spanish class participates in this fundraiser by “adopting” a family. Throughout donations of money, toys, or clothes, students can help aid Spanish-speaking families during the holiday season.
With the money raised by each individual class, the Spanish club purchases all the materials necessary for a classic Christmas celebration: toys, books, clothes, and other presents. “We call [the families] ahead of time, and see what kind of things they need, and then we go out shopping and buy clothes and presents and all those sorts of things,” said Bouchard
The Adopt a Family fundraiser makes many students aware of an issue that they may not have previously thought about. “I feel like a lot of us assume that Christmas is just something that everybody gets. And thinking about families with these kids that don’t really expect much…it’s really nice to be able to give them gifts,” said Abigail Renberg, a sophomore helping to organize the fundraiser.
Additionally, the fundraiser provides the Spanish club a channel through which they can reach out to the local Spanish-speaking community. “I’ve been in Spanish since kindergarten, and we’ve always learned a lot about the culture,” said Renberg. Through this fundraiser, however, Spanish students have the opportunity to actually interact with Spanish-speaking families first hand and make an avid difference in their lives.
For those who help run the fundraiser, the most rewarding part of the whole experience is delivering the gifts to the families themselves. “This is my favorite activity or fundraiser that Spanish Club does because I think that it’s really great to see the impact that we’re making directly,” said Bouchard.
After the club purchases the gifts for each family, they personally deliver them to the various families. “[When we deliver the presents to the families,] we get to see the looks on their faces when they get all these things, and they’re really excited about them and so appreciative. I think it’s great to see that connection and make that connection with all these families,” said Bouchard. Fortunately, with the help of Spanish students at Leesville, seven families will now have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas.
Although this time of year should remind people of what they’re grateful for, often times we focus on what we don’t have, or what we think we need. So the next time you sit around the tree to open presents with family, remember how fortunate you are to be receiving this gifts and remember what you can do to help out your local community.