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KU digs deep during holidays

Offices adopt families, help neighbors

To help brighten the holidays, many people give gifts to underprivileged children or provide meals to the less fortunate. But help at the holidays doesn't always have to come wrapped in a box – it can be as simple as helping an elderly individual rake leaves.

Each year, schools and departments from across KU come up with creative ways to help during the holiday season. Here are just a few examples of this season's generosity.

Last month, first-year law students organized a community service project to help senior citizens with yard work. Students helped elderly individuals rake leaves, mow lawns and perform other tasks that can be challenging for seniors.

When people think of Thanksgiving, often the first thought to enter the mind is food – and lots of it. The Black Law Students Association recently held its 16th Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. Students collected donations throughout the school and raised money to buy food. Various groups within the school competed to see who could collect the most food, and faculty encouraged donations by giving "passes" in class to students who brought in canned goods. Last year alone, the association gathered enough food to feed more than 1,500 area families. Students from the Public Interest Law Society will help families in the New Orleans area devastated by Hurricane Katrina by volunteering there over the winter break.

Many schools and departments adopt families for the holidays. Each year, the School of Social Welfare adopts three families, usually one with children and elderly couples or individuals. The school has collected toys and gifts for children and requested items for parents.

"One year, the family we adopted just had a baby and had no crib for it and also had several other children. The generosity of our employees is overwhelming, and that year someone actually purchased a crib and mattress for the baby and even fulfilled another child's wishes for a bicycle," said Debbie McCord, events coordinator for the School of Social Welfare.

In addition to adopting families, the School of Education has raised support for agencies such as Women's Transitional Care Services and the O'Connell Youth Ranch. This year, the school hopes to raise $2,000 for Women's Transitional Care Services, which provides shelter, peer counseling, advocacy and services to survivors of domestic abuse in Douglas, Franklin and Jefferson counties. The donations help provide clothing, diapers and toiletries to families, and help women in need purchase gifts for their children. Donations have helped buy household items such as microwaves for O'Connell Youth Ranch, a group home for boys aged 8 to 18 placed in state custody by the court system.

The Freshman-Sophomore Advising Center is hoping to start a new tradition. On Dec. 15, staff will help serve meals at Jubilee café, which provides breakfast twice a week to individuals n need.

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