The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Gifts for underprivileged students pool on NE Campus

Kenney Kost/ NE news editor

Each year, faculty and staff on NE Campus participate in a program called the Giving Tree to help students in need provide a Christmas for their families.

The financial aid department is in charge of identifying students who may need assistance, said financial aid specialist Danchees Ingram.

“Students talk, so they may know someone who needs help and they can recommend to us,” she said. “We also have students that file special circumstances reports with us, and we use that method as well as any faculty recommendations we may get.”

Once they have a list of 10 to 15 names, they contact the students who fill out a questionnaire, explaining their child’s age, gender, clothing size and anything special they may want for Christmas, Ingram said.

The names are then divided up across five divisions — three academic divisions, administration and student development and counseling. Once the departments have the names, they start accepting donations, gifts or cash, Ingram said.

“People like to donate cash,” said administrative assistant Sandra Martinez. “I pick up the money and shop. I make it a family event. I have children, and this teaches them what Christmas is about – giving.”

Like Martinez, many of the faculty get their families involved and sometimes even the community helps out.

“When I am out shopping, I speak to store managers and explain to them what it is I am doing,” Martinez said. “Most of the time, once they find out what I am doing, they want to help too. I had a manager at Wal-Mart last year who gave me his employee discount so that I could get one of the kids a 10-speed bike. So the community really gets involved too.”

Once the gifts are purchased, they are wrapped and taken to financial aid or NE President Larry Darlage’s office to await pick-up. For the faculty who get to see the students picking up gifts, this is the most rewarding part of the experience.

“I worked as administrative assistant to Dr. [Larry] Darlage one year, and I witnessed the students picking up their gifts and they are so humble and appreciative, Martinez said. “I don’t care who you are it will bring tears to your eyes.”

At the end of the day, the program is a reward for the students and their children for the hard work they are putting in to better themselves, said associate professor of science Debra Scheiwe.

“It’s a reward for them,” she said. “It seems like we are giving a lot, but we are all getting more out of it than we are giving. At this time of year, everyone is in full swing, students and faculty. This is a way to kind of step back and look at what’s important, and that is, especially around this time of year, helping others.”

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