OPRF clubs and classes adopt-a-family for the holiday season

Josh Hedrich, Staffer

This holiday season, members of the OPRF community got their giving on by providing gifts for more than 50 families in need throughout the Oak Park and River Forest area, through the Holiday Food and Gift Basket program’s Adopt-a-Family initiative.

Every year, the Holiday Food and Gift Basket institution provides assistance during the holiday season for people in need in the Oak Park and River Forest area. In 2018, the program helped more tha 2,000 people in 800 households. The process begins in November when the program provides participating families with grocery store gift cards so they can buy food for a Thanksgiving feast. The process continues in December when individuals and groups from the Oak Park and River Forest area purchase gifts for the families; OPRF groups sponsored 54 families this year.

At OPRF, community outreach coordinator Latonia Jackson is responsible for gathering families in need and assigning families to different groups around OPRF. “I play two roles in the whole adopt a family process,” Jackson said. “I collect families that may be in need… and then on the flipside, I see who in our building wants to adopt.” However, Jackson had no problem with the latter part of her job, as she had numerous groups contacting her looking to adopt a family. “I never really have to ask (who wants to adopt), because before I can even ask, people are saying, ‘Hey, my class wants to give’, because people are in a giving mood,” Jackson said. “Usually I have more people wanting to adopt than I have families that need to be adopted.”

After choosing to Adopt-a-Family, groups were sent a list of family members and the gender, age, and wish list for each one. Making sure every family member was accounted for, groups went out and bought items on the wish lists, wrapped them, and delivered them to room 174 Dec. 10. Then, on Dec. 12, Jackson and volunteers rented a school bus to transport the gifts from the high school to United Lutheran Church, where the gifts were separated into groups based on where the families live. Finally, on Dec. 14, Oak Park and River Forest police officers and other volunteers delivered gifts to the families.

One OPRF service club that has participated in the Adopt-a-Family program for 10 years now is Students in Service, which this year, chose to adopt two families. “It’s a season where we should be caring about our community,” said Michael Dorame, the teacher sponsor of Students in Service.

Tau Gamma, another OPRF service club that has participated in the Adopt-a-Family program for years, also decided to adopt two families for the first time. “We are a large club,” President Caroline Peavy said, “and we want to help as many people as we can.” When asked about why she thinks it’s important to give to people in need, Peavy said, “I think it’s super important to give back when you can and help make those families holidays just as wonderful as you want your own to be. Adopt-a-Family provides an awesome platform to help brighten the holidays and the year of those less fortunate, which is an opportunity I think everyone should take.”