Spreading Cheer through Adopt-a-Family Program
This Christmas season, Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School hosted its first ever school-wide Adopt-a-Family program. The program helped Catholic Charities, Oakland Catholic Worker and the St. Joseph Basilica Angels Tree program provide Christmas gifts to families in need during the season. SJND also collected gift cards for young adults who were formerly in foster care through a partnership with the organization Beyond Emancipation.
The Adopt-a-Family project provided students the opportunity to engage in meaningful service. First, a group of SJND students and a current parent compiled the families’ wish lists by personally interviewing the children in need and distributing the lists to groups and departments throughout the campus.
“While I was interviewing families I felt very grateful that I am able to speak two languages, and have the ability to help others,” said Alexa Sanchez '20. “It took me back to a place where I was as a little girl. There were Christmases where we would also go to places like Oakland Catholic Worker to get gifts. Seeing how there are others that are in the same position I was in, I know how happy the kids will be to have gifts on Christmas day.”
Once all of the homerooms, teams, clubs and departments received the families’ wish lists, they started shopping for the gifts. SJND’s administration office was transformed into Santa's workshop overnight with presents which included a stroller, microwave, scooter, bike, tablet, and a plethora of clothes and other items. Students organized and wrapped the presents for each family.
On December 10, SJND hosted the families from Catholic Charities on campus to enjoy Christmas cheer with music, decorations, goodies, an art station, and games. The children of the families were delighted when special guest Santa Claus (Theology faculty member Adam Chaffey) arrived bringing them many presents for the holidays.
“I assumed that the families were just going to come to the library, pick up the gifts, say thank you and leave, but I was wrong,” said senior Eric Tran ’18. “I was given the opportunity to sit down with a family, play Uno and Blackjack, and just enjoy time filled with laughs and smiles all around. As they were about to leave, they gave me one of those sincere, grateful hugs that you do not forget. I felt like I was truly a part of this family.”
Service learning projects at SJND are designed to develop students’ sense of social and personal responsibility, increase their understanding of the conditions that warrant service, and challenge them to recognize their potential as agents of social change. Adam Chaffey, who organized the project, said to his fellow teachers, “I can't help feel that this is what Catholic education is meant to be about. What you've given to these students in inspiration and education, has allowed 160 people to go to the Christmas tree this Christmas and know that they are loved.”