Adopt-a-Family Giving More Than Gifts

The science lab is converted into a gift-wrapping station by Coach Moore and his band of elves, preparing gifts for this year's adopted families. (photo by Nico Arcuri)
The science lab is converted into a gift-wrapping station by Coach Moore and his band of elves, preparing gifts for this year’s adopted families. (photo by Nico Arcuri)

‘Tis the season to be giving, and especially at St. Paul’s School, since the study body has been adopting families for over twenty years now with their annual Christmas “Adopt-a-Family” program.

“(The program) makes a major difference, from things like simple needs to children’s Christmas presents,” Kevin Moore, director of the program, said. “St. Paul’s makes a major impact in helping needier families of the St. Tammany parish area every Christmas.”

Moore has seen students in the past who sign up and walk away with more than just service hours. They also improve their community in the process. The purpose of the program is to give less fortunate families home appliances, warm clothes, and toys for children, all in an effort to help the community to be worry-free and happy at Christmas time.

“Giving is the reason for the season,” Junior Jared Simoneaux, one of the students who participated this year, said.

On Tuesday, Dec. 16, a group of SPS sophomores from Moore’s World History Class, along with other students who have participated before, gathered at 1:30 p.m. after their first semester exam to start phase two the Adopt-a-Family process for 2014. The students first went on a shopping trip to buy items from each family’s wish list. There are five families total, one per grade. That means a lot of shopping.

The wish list requests are paid for from donations of students and fundraisers leading up to the event. After shopping, the students wrapped the wish list gifts. These gifts are more than just a football for Bobby and a dollie for Suzie. Many of these are the gifts one would not typically find in Santa’s sleigh. They often fulfill household needs that most high school students typically take for granted. These are the gifts that the kids and the whole family cherish the most, because it makes their way of life easier.

The final part of the process is the most emotional: the delivery. The students loaded the gifts up to bring them to the families. They interacted with the kids and the inhabitants of the homes. According to Moore, it was an experience the families and the students will never forget. Moore explained that the students are often astonished when they walk into the recipients’ homes, discovering just how tough it can be in the real world. He describes these families as living day-by-day.

“You can tell by the look on the kids’ faces that they have experienced something they’ll remember for the rest of their life,” Moore said.

Moore spoke of two former students in particular who once participated in the delivery process. They both came from wealthy families and have now graduated the school and are freshmen in college. He said these two spoke to him about the experience, saying they were amazed, not knowing people actually live in such impoverished circumstances. Moore describes how, time and again, students volunteer for the program to help fulfill service hour requirements, but come away with so much more.