OPRF Adopts Families for the 2022 Holiday Season

The holidays can be challenging for many people due to the traditional gift-giving that’s part of many winter celebrations. This time of year can be especially difficult for financially unstable families who want to experience the same joy as everyone else.

The Community of Congregations, an interfaith organization serving Oak Park, River Forest and the surrounding regions, holds an annual Holiday Food and Gift Basket program in which participants collect donations to buy gifts on the wishlists of families in need. The program then collects the gifts to distribute during the holiday season.

Oak Park and River Forest High School has been participating in the program for over 15 years and is helping more than 75 families this year.

Several school clubs have chosen to “adopt” families, such as Women in Leadership, Student Council, Drama Club, Freshman Class Council and the Leadership and Launch program.

A member of Women in Leadership, junior Phyllis Kreiter, said she was excited to be taking part in the program. “Adopt-A-Family is such a big thing around the school, which I think shows a lot about our community and how much we care about everyone feeling loved during the holiday season,” Kreiter said. “It’s one of those things you are able to see from start to finish which is truly rewarding–especially if you do it with a group you find special.”

Women in Leadership adopted two families this year, both of whom will receive several gifts, such as warm winter clothes, Play-Doh, and sneakers.

Michelle Bayer, the sponsor of the Freshman Class Council and Drama Club, is participating in the program with both clubs. Bayer emphasized the importance of making a contribution in whatever way possible. “What I hope my kids get is–whether you’re bringing 50 cents to help or you’re wrapping presents or whatever that is–that’s important because you’re giving something of yourself to somebody else,” Bayer said, adding that she hopes to see more families sponsored under the program going forward.

Several other teachers have chosen to participate in the program with their students. Glynis Kinnan teaches AP Literature and works with her senior classes to adopt families. Kinnan’s students said they found it rewarding to participate in the Adopt-A-Family initiative.

“I’m just really happy to be potentially making someone’s day during the holidays,” said Kinnan’s student, senior Mateo Nery. “It’s supposed to be a time where people are cheerful and upbeat, so being able to provide that for someone else, and provide some sort of happiness for that family is really nice and enjoyable.”