Hillcrest Hope Christmas Family Adoption
Hillcrest Hope graduates leave with the skills they need to thrive as neighbors. However, in their efforts to save money and live frugally, there’s little money leftover for anything extra. This makes Christmas a particularly challenging season for our Hillcrest Hope graduates and their families. Our donors graciously step in to adopt families, buying Christmas gifts to make it a happy holiday. And for Liberty teacher Erin Garvey, adopting Hillcrest Hope families is her students’ favorite service project all year.
In addition to her role as teacher, Erin serves as an advisor for Liberty High School’s Key Club and Discovery Middle School’s Builders Club. She’s also a member of Liberty Kiwanis. “All three of my organizations have adopted families for several years now,” Erin says ,”and every year, it’s a hit.
“They always ask me at the beginning of the year, ‘Are we getting a family? Will we do it again?’ And we always do it because it’s such a rewarding program,” Erin smiles.
Seeing items like socks, jeans, underwear and coats on the children’s lists initially came as a surprise to her students, Erin says. “My students quickly realized that things they were asking for are things my students don’t even consider as a present or a gift.”
“It’s so important for these kids to know that these are other students, who literally are their classmates,” Erin says. “They learn that at Christmas, it’s not a given that every kid gets a present.”
Adopting families from Hillcrest Hope has helped her students gain a sense of gratitude for what they have. “Most of these items are a given for my students. So to see how these kids need the basic necessities is a pretty eye-opening experience.”
Not only does the experience build gratitude and character, it’s fun too! “My students always look forward to picking out the items,” Erin says. Her female high school students in particular, because many of them babysit, love choosing items for babies and toddlers. “They come back not just with the item they were told to get, but with bags of things! They always say it was all so cute that they couldn’t resist. They’ll even get tutus for toddlers!”
Erin remembers one especially meaningful gift. The students adopted a family with a single dad and two little girls. One requested pink cowgirl boots, the only item on her “want” list. One of Erin’s students was able to find a pair. “Dad sent a thank you note saying she loves them and doesn’t take them off her feet! She even sleeps in them!”
It’s not just the students who enjoy adopting Hillcrest Hope graduate families; Erin’s Kiwanis group loves it too. “Many of the members are parents and grandparents, so it’s meaningful for them to choose gifts their own kids and grandkids might like.”
Although the families they adopt are different each year, one thing never changes: the reason behind adopting these families. “Most of the families are in our neighborhood,” Erin tells her students, “I tell them that these are neighbors, classmates and friends . . . you just may not know it. And when they think of one of their friends getting nothing for Christmas, they realize they can help.”
There’s still time to adopt a Hillcrest Hope graduate family, and it’s an important way to make a meaningful and tangible difference on Christmas morning.