Adopt-a-Family supplies food

In two days, most of us will be on our way back to our families for the upcoming holiday weekend. It’s safe to say that we are more excited to get away from campus for a last breather before (gulp) finals than we are for that turkey Thursday night.

Kenrick Leung

Honestly now, how many of us actually think about how lucky we are to sit down to an array of mouth-watering, warm dishes, while there are many others around the world who are not as fortunate?

Forget the big picture and just peer into San Diego’s community. There are many families that cannot even afford to have a little Thanksgiving dinner.

UCSD students can extend their hands this holiday season by signing up with the Adopt-a-Family project on campus through the Volunteer Connection Office located on the second floor of the Price Center.

According to Special Projects Director Kimmy Chela, a junior at Eleanor Roosevelt College, the project is targeted at many needy families that don’t have the means to celebrate this holiday. Adopt-a-Family’s objective is to provide them with a Thanksgiving dinner and an unforgettable season.

Chela said that this project has been an annual event at UCSD and attracts all organizations.

“”Basically,”” she explained, “”we deliver a flier describing the project to every on-campus organization mailbox, and so far, more than 40 applications have been turned in. Our goal is to reach 75 families.””

This year, there has been an influx of people participating in this event, and other facilities have been used to find needy families, such as the Welfare Office, which in turn results in more families having a Thanksgiving dinner.

Thurgood Marshall College senior Megan Williams, who also works at the Volunteer Connection Office, explained that each group that fills out an application to adopt a family is then matched to a family.

“”All we do is match them to the family,”” Williams noted. “”They contact the family and figure out how to bring them their Thanksgiving dinner.”” The group or individual usually caters to what the family wants, whether that is raw ingredients, a hot and ready meal or even just money.

According to Williams, a variety of UCSD organizations have come forward. She listed residence halls, all the five colleges, the A.S. Council, different fraternities and sororities, the Triton Water Polo team, and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.

Roosevelt junior Shannon Patal, the co-chair of ERC’s Community Outreach Effort, is joining in the Adopt-A-Family project this year for the first time.

“”We got a lot of positive feedback from students,”” she said, “”and we are excited to work together to help others.””

There are people who rely on such help to provide their families with dinner on Thanksgiving night.

San Diego resident Evelyn Cautivar is just one of the many people benefitting from this program. She is a single mother of four boys who took part in Adopt-A-Family last year and will again this year. Cautivas feels that the project aids many needy families here in San Diego.

“”It is a hardship — a struggle — to buy food,”” she said, “”and this helps.”” She added, “”A lot.”” She described how her sons “”were really happy”” when they heard they were going to have a real Thanksgiving dinner last year, and were “”beyond excited”” when the meal actually arrived.

A.S. President Jeff Dodge, who has delivered food three times through Adopt-a-Family, feels that seeing the excitement on the children’s faces is the best part.

“”The parents keep trying to say thank you,”” he recalled, “”but the excitement of the kids just said it all — that was all we needed to really understand just how much this dinner meant to them.””

On last year’s delivery, Dodge explained that the A.S. Council went out the night before and bought the food, along with a few kitchen supplies, and the next morning met the family.

“”We actually stayed and talked with the family for a little bit,”” he said. “”It was a very good experience. We all left feeling warm-hearted, especially because of the kids’ excitement.””

Williams summed it up by saying that delivering the dinner and seeing the joy they bring makes participants feel like they are giving back.

“”That is what Thanksgiving is about, right?”” she asked.

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