Campus News

Adopt-A-Family makes the holidays brighter for 40 families this season

Adopt-A-Family participants Amy Hunzinger (center) and Ken Engler (far right) mingle with Business Services' staff (from left) Nancy Kreppenneck, Sean Gardner and Patti O’Farrell. Photo: Douglas Levere

By CHRISTINE VIDAL

Published December 22, 2016

“It’s a nice way to share the holiday spirit with people who may not have much.”
Tess Morrissey, director
Office of Community Relations

Tis the season, and the UB community has come together again to make the holidays merrier for more than 40 families in need — as well as residents and clients of Gateway Longview — thanks to the annual Adopt-A-Family program sponsored by UB’s Office of Community Relations.

Families were nominated by community organizations, local officials, churches and individuals.

“It’s a way for the university to give back to the community,” said Tess Morrissey, director of community relations. “Many of the departments spend a lot of time wrapping presents and coordinating gifts. It’s a nice way to share the holiday spirit with people who may not have much.”

That includes Lisa McCann, her daughter and eight grandchildren ages 8 to 17, whose gifts were contributed by the Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach.

It also includes the Littletons, a family of 12 with 10 children ages 9 months to 15 years, who received their gifts from the Graduate School of Education.

“This is our second year doing this, and we learned a lot about the families from their gift wish lists,” said Claire Cameron, associate professor of learning and instruction. “It’s important to take advantage of the opportunity to meet the community, whether that’s UB or Buffalo.”

Giving back is an important part of the university’s mission to contribute to the health and well-being of the community, said Amanda Nickerson, director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention.

“And it’s fun!” she said. “I got to meet colleagues I hadn’t met before who would come to my office with big bags of gifts. It brings you all together.”

Families “adopted” for the holidays provided wish lists, from which UB offices, departments and schools purchased toys, clothing, much-needed household items and gift cards. Gifts were distributed Dec. 21 in Allen Hall on the South Campus. UB faculty and staff shop, wrap, decorate and volunteer their time and energy to make the program a success each year.

That includes members of the Office of University Business Services, which provided gifts for Amy Hunzinger and Ken Engler and their four teenagers, who received items such as clothing, Buffalo Sabres merchandise, household items and gift cards.

“We do it every year!” said Sean Gardner, senior staff assistant in financial management. “Normally we have families with younger kids and people go crazy; they’ll see there’s a 1-year-old and go out and buy 10 outfits.”

“We get a lot of repeat departments,” Morrissey said. “This is something people do every year and really get into it. They go above and beyond the wish list.”

Case in point, she noted, is a washer being donated to a family by the School of Social Work.

“We are bombarded with questions from people who really want to zero in on what a family is like and what they really need,” said Dan Kelly, assistant director of community relations. “People put a lot of thought into what children put on their wish lists to personalize and individualize their gifts.”

This is the eighth year for UB’s Adopt-A-Family program, Morrissey said, and the number of departments grows every year. Some departments sponsor more than one family.

And their generosity is stunning, resulting in a room overflowing with hundreds and hundreds of carefully and brightly wrapped gifts.

The following UB offices, departments and schools participated in the 2016 Adopt-A-Family program: Counseling, School and Educational Psychology; Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach; UB Technology Incubator; UB Bioscience Incubator; College of Arts and Sciences; CAS Student Advisement Center; Office of the Provost; Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; Office of the Registrar and HUB Support.

Also: International Education; University Business Services; Human Resources; Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health; Women’s Health Initiative Research Center; Honors College; School of Dental Medicine; Educational Opportunity Program; Department of Biochemistry; UBMD; Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Also: Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Professional Staff Senate; Uniform Data Systems for Medical Rehabilitation; Office of Shared Governance; Department of Rehabilitation Science; Student Life; Intercultural Diversity Center; Graduate School of Medical Education; Student Health Services; Financial Aid; Counseling Services.

Also: Office of the President; Office of Student Engagement; Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development; School of Social Work; Network and Classroom Services; Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Dean’s Office; Department of Medical Bioinformatics; Student Accounts; and Office of Veterans Affairs.

More than 40 area families will have a merrier holiday thanks to UB's Adopt-A-Family program. Photo: Douglas Levere