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Campus program seeks to help those in holiday need

By Jasmin Brown
On November 24, 2010

The Social Work Advocates from A&M-Commerce's Department of Social Work are running their annual program to assist needy families affiliated with the university during the Christmas season.

Bachelor of Social Work Program Secretary Amy Toole is in charge of the project for the third consecutive year.

"We send out the applications, and anybody who needs help for Christmas can fill it out with their kid's sizes, preferences and special needs," she said. "They send it to me and then I record it and I make up an anonymous information sheet that I give out to the people that adopt them. Then they go buy the items, bring them back to me and the families come pick them up."

The only requirement for applicants is that they be an employee or student of the university.

"That requirement includes our distance learning like at Navarro and Mesquite," Toole said. "We even have people from Corsicana that apply sometimes."

Toole said that while the program's greatest focus is on children, anyone is welcome to apply.

"We had an elderly couple one year that just needed help with Christmas dinner, so we had some donated gift cards and that what we gave them," she said. "When it comes to adults, it's really a case by case thing. Most parents do no put their information on there. Mostly, it's just for the kids, but we're not going to say, ‘No, don't send them,' we take each case and see whether or not we can help them."

The program has seen a substantial increase in application this year, according to Toole.

"We have 30 already this year, which is three times as many as our total last year," she said.

The deadline for application submission is Nov. 30 and Toole said all donations should be in by Dec. 17.

"We want the stuff here by Dec. 17 so that they can come pick it up before the Christmas break," she said.

For those who may not want to shop to fulfill a particular wish list, any monetary donations, unwrapped toys, games, books and new clothes would be appreciated.

"Any of that will help because at the end there will probably be families that will not be adopted, so we like to have those donations, divide it up and then go shop for them," she said. "It's very important for the A&M-Commerce family. We have a lot of students who have lost jobs in the economy and we like to try and help make it a little better for them."

Vice President for Student Access and Success Dr. Mary Hendrix said she thinks the program is a good way for students to extend a helping hand in their university community.

"I have been so impressed with our student body this year," she said. "They continue to ask for ways they can give back to our university and our community. My favorite quote is, ‘You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.' I encourage our student organizations to look for ways they can become involved to make a difference."

Those interested in applying to be a Christmas family, adopting a family or making other donations may contact Toole at 903-886-5893 or at


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