Earlier this month, if you happened to stop by LeBow’s Undergraduate Office on the third floor of Gerri C. LeBow Hall, you might have seen an unfamiliar scene: a group of staffers listening to holiday music, busily wrapping presents in an otherwise ordinary conference room.
This year, 11 members of the undergraduate team joined together to “adopt” four families through Family Gift Connection, a donor-based gift drive sponsored by Maternity Care Coalition that matches willing donors with client families in need. Overall, LeBow’s Secret Santas bought gifts — ranging from winter coats and boots to dolls and toy planes — for seven children.
The idea was the brainchild of Erin Lemons, whose work as an employer relations coordinator put her in contact with Maternity Care Coalition when the organization contacted her about participating in the co-op program.
“Once I learned of the type of work that was done there, I asked to be placed on their list for the Family Gift Connection,” Lemons says.
So she sent an email to the rest of her team. The response was overwhelming.
“It has always been important to me to give back to those in need and to be able work with people who feel the same gives me a closer connection to the University and to LeBow.”
The LeBow staffers wrapped what amounted to seven large bags of gifts, which Lemons, donning a Santa hat, delivered later that night to the Coalition.
Gifts that keep on giving
This is not the undergraduate office’s first foray into philanthropy. Beginning this quarter, the team will volunteer for a day of service at Cradles to Crayons, an organization that provides children living in homeless and low-income situations with vital items for home, school and play. The undergraduate office plans to undertake a day of service each term thereafter.
In addition, just after Thanksgiving, the team began wearing jeans on Fridays in exchange for a $5 donation to support Toys for Tots.
Maternity Care Coalition is a nonprofit devoted to increasing insurance coverage for pregnant women and families.