Last year, 281 local children had a brighter holiday season due to the generosity of Illinois State students, faculty, and staff, and the Holiday Helper program from the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.
This year’s program features a new, online sponsorship system. The new system replaces the print-based card system used previously.
“We’re thrilled to have the online sponsorship system available this year,” said Blair Canedy, a graduate assistant at the Center who is organizing this year’s Holiday Helper program. “People can simply go online and sponsor a child in a matter of minutes—likely in less time than it would have taken them in years past to walk to our office to sponsor a child.” All unwrapped gifts are due to the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning by November 22.
Each year, the Center partners with local organizations to identify children in need. In conjunction with each partnering agency, the children and their families identify personal wants and needs. The Center then asks Illinois State students, faculty, and staff to help sponsor each child by purchasing gifts for them valuing approximately $50.
Partner agencies last year were Western Avenue Community Center, Unity Community Center, Boys and Girls Club, and the Center for Youth and Family Solutions. The Center is excited to announce the expansion of the program this year to also include Marcfirst.
“Each year we evaluate our Holiday Helper community partnerships to make sure that we’re still meeting the needs of the organizations and the local community,” said Canedy. “When we were approached by Marcfirst this fall, we saw a need that we could help address.”
The Center will begin by including 30 children this year through Marcfirst and will evaluate capacity again next year. Overall, 300 local children are available for sponsorship this year.
- Sponsorship opens on November 1 to all Illinois State University students, faculty, and staff through the new, online system.
- Purchase gifts for your sponsored child from their needs and wants list.
- The value of the gifts should be around $50.
- Return all gifts—unwrapped—to the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning by November 22.
Other Volunteer Opportunities
The wrapping parties at the Center are another great way to get involved with the Holiday Helper program. Consider joining the fun as all of the donated gifts are organized, wrapped, and packed! The wrapping parties will take place at the Center on December 2 and 3. If you would like to volunteer to wrap, please fill out the volunteer registration form and select a time slot.
Many of the gifts are distributed at holiday parties hosted by the Center at several of the local partner organizations. The parties are organized by the College of Education’s Family, Professional, and Community Collaboration class, taught by Debbie Shelden, but volunteers are needed to help staff the parties. If you would like to volunteer at a holiday party, please fill out the holiday party volunteer registration form.