As the weather turns cold and homes are lined with lights, people start thinking about the holidays and the joy the season can bring.
Between making lists of gifts we hope to receive and planning gatherings, it can be easy to forget there are others who are far less fortunate.
There are kids that wake up on Christmas morning without any presents to open and there are families that can’t afford a tree to decorate with lights or to even put a warm meal on their dinner table.
“I think it’s important to help [those] that might not receive gifts. It’s not about the material, it’s about taking the time,” said 20-year-old Sarah Catania, an electrical engineering major and vice president of the College Life Committee.
To address the need, Orange Coast College’s Angel Tree drive is organized annually by the College Life Committee and serves as a way for students and members of the community to give back during this time of year.
Trees and donation boxes spread across campus are meant for collecting gifts and gift cards that the committee will donate to organizations that provide services for low-income families. The trees are decorated with gift tags with the name and age of the potential recipients, allowing those wanting to donate to select a gift with intention.
The College Life Committee’s outreach coordinator and chair of the Angel Tree drive this year is 18-year-old business administration major Jackson Dugan. As chair, he leads the discussion in deciding where the donations will go and encourages everyone on the committee to contribute potential organizations to work with, he said.
Although they strive to donate to multiple organizations each year, Dugan said he has always been passionate about working with Project Access, an organization that works with families in need living in affordable housing. They provide access to vital on-site health services, education and employment services.
“It’s important to help low-income families in our community. I like using my position to help others, even though they might not necessarily be on campus,” Dugan said.
Through last year’s Angel Tree drive the committee was able to donate over 875 gifts and about $400 in gift cards, Dugan said. This year the goal is to beat that.
The trees and donation boxes will be on campus until Dec. 6 but last minute donations will be accepted until Dec. 13 at the Associated Students of Orange Coast College office where extra credit slips will be available for students whose professors have agreed to offer it.
“A lot of us are used to the idea that Christmas Day there’s a present under your tree, but that’s not always the case. I think it’s important to emphasize that and be conscious of it. Maybe we can do just a little bit to help kids that don’t receive gifts, how can we brighten up their day,” Catania said.