For the staff and participants of Heartland Alliance, the holiday season began months in advance. We put on our Santa hats in October and keep them on until we can deliver the thousands of presents we collect through our annual Adopt a Family programming. Each year, your energy and donations are transformed into something much bigger than just coats and hats – you are providing a welcoming, warm hand to individuals and families often forgotten during the season of giving.
And you all do it so, so very well. Just look at our longtime partners at the Boston Consulting Group – for years, BCG has come to bat for individuals we serve. This year, the team adopted 50 families from our Asset Building and FamilyWorks programs – primarily serving single moms working to become self sufficient.
Lauren Slowik has been managing the BCG Adopt a Family for years now, noting that it’s a highlight of the year for the whole team.
“This has become a tradition in our office and something we look forward to as a team each year. Each year our team grows so we ask to take on more individuals to support. We always like to take on as many families as we can, so we can help as many individuals in the Chicago area!”
For Lauren, born and raised in Chicago, the satisfaction of knowing she’s making an impact in her home town is everything.
“This is a pretty big task to take on, but I am delighted to participate. At times, the drive is stressful, but I know it will pay off when 50 families in our community have presents to open on Christmas morning. I would love to see the expression of these individuals because I know how great it feels on my end.”
Shawn Wax, VP of Development for Columbia College Chicago, and his team adopted a family new to Chicago – refugees from Burma. His team’s excitement to make a difference for one family is contagious. The team was particularly excited to serve individuals who are still adjusting to life in a new country.
“When we learned of the Adopt a Family program and its impact on families in need as they transition to a new country, we immediately knew we wanted to be a part of it. This really is the most wonderful time of the year.”
That drive to connect with community members has helped us serve over 500 families this year alone – making the holiday season truly memorable for thousands of our participants, like those we serve in our refugee resettlement and refugee health programs.
Mohamad and Katijah, parents of four young children and newly resettled Rohingya refugees, are still new to the concept of the holiday season. As Mohamad works and Katijah cares for her youngest, the Adopt a Family program has ensured that all of their children will get to enjoy the holiday spirit. Toys, winter boots, and clothing were shipped to their door just a few days prior – but for Mohamad, the gifts came upon their arrival to their new home just over two years ago.
“We feel like this is our own country. We’ll be happy no matter what from now on. Never again do I have to worry.”
Mohamad and Katijah shared their appreciation for the smiles on their children’s faces. More so, they are grateful for the sense of connection to those who care enough to give to strangers.
“We love the idea of this program. Even the people giving actually get to receive – they receive the comfort in knowing they have made us very happy. We are getting the things we really need, and hope they understand that.”