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Christmas charity connects campus and community

Christmas has become too commercial, says Janeen Auld, which makes the Adopt-a-Family program a perfect way for her to celebrate the holiday.

“My family doesn’t exchange gifts,” says Auld, an instrument technician in the chemistry department. “It’s just too much stuff. Buying for people truly in need is the only type of shopping I want to do.”

The campus community raised more than $24,000 in donations of cash and gifts, plus boxes of groceries, this year to help 44 local families through the Adopt-a-Family program of Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society. It was a great turnout, says organizer Mary Anne Beaudoin, office manager in public affairs and communications.

“People always seem to turn up at this time of year, helping the less fortunate in our city,” she says. “I hope it helps us to appreciate how lucky we are to be in a position to give rather than receive.”

Under the program, faculties, departments and individuals across campus “adopted” families and raised cash or bought items that were requested on their wish lists. Far from extravagant, the lists request such necessities as housewares, clothing and food as well as some toys for the children.

Andrea Madden, community initiatives coordinator for the children’s aid society, says contributions from the university “mean the world to the families and the kids” who receive them.

“The effort the University puts into it is absolutely amazing,” she says. “You can see that people have taken the care to match their gifts with the requests from the families. If it weren’t for these donations, some of these kids wouldn’t have anything to open.”

She says the University is one of the largest donors to the program, and credits Beaudoin’s role.

“Every year, Mary Anne runs a great operation over there,” Madden says. “She really knows what she’s doing after all these years.”

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