The Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS) along with Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) program has been in coordination with CalWORKs and FYSI in delivering Christmas wishes and fun to children of low income families registered with any of those student assistance programs.
The Adopt an Angel holiday program is a way for the aforementioned departments along with FC faculty and staff to extend support to financially strapped student parents and their families, where gift giving would not be easily feasible for them.
The program, now in its 22nd year, was originally started by the Transfer Center in 1996, according to Student Services Specialist for EOPS, Dolores Cornejo.
This year, 147 children were signed up for sponsorship adoption – the highest number of children the program has ever had, according to Cornejo.
“We were fearful of not being able to get all the kids adopted but they got adopted so much quicker than any other year,” said Cornejo.
Beginning November 5, a craft ornament with the photo of a child 13 years of age or younger is available in the EOPS office to participating faculty and staff. Also, on the ornament, is the child’s wish list naming three items under 15 dollars that he or she hopes to receive for Christmas.
Each child’s sponsor is asked to buy two of the gifts on the list and turn them in to the EOPS office by November 30.
The Adopt an Angel event will take place on December 7, the last day of the semester. The children will not only receive their bag of gifts, but they will also get to enjoy a day of festivities, which includes decorating stockings, face painting, Jenga Giant, and a picture with Santa.
Retired FC ethnic studies Professor Gerald “Jerry” Padilla will return as Saint Nick for the event.
Pasta and pizza dinner, dessert and a holiday movie are worked into the day as well.
Every year along with the planning of the program comes the thinking on how to improve and expand it. Having a festival for the children and their families in addition to receiving gifts is part of the work that Dr. Jennifer LaBounty, Dean of Counseling and Student Development at FC, actively works on producing. LaBounty was previously the director overseeing EOPS/CARE, CalWORKs and FYSI programs. She continues to be involved in finding more ways to support low-income students.
This year LaBounty wanted to see about getting something for the parents as well, so EOPS has been actively seeking donations from restaurants; they’ve asked stylists to help out and have solicited the cosmetology department for other services they’re willing to provide, according to Cornejo.
“Student parents sacrifice themselves all year long and sometimes put themselves last. We want them to know that we think about them too,” said Cornejo.
The efforts from the EOPS office has resulted many returns. For the second year in a row, EOPS has been able to get Christmas tree donations for their event of giving. There will be five opportunity drawings, as Cornejo called it, for a family to obtain a fresh Christmas tree. It’s something that the families may not have been able to afford getting.
Additionally, at the FC holiday event happening December 4, FC committee members will be taking book donations that will be delivered to Adopt an Angel in time for them to include it in the bag of gifts for their adoptees on the day of the event.
Furthermore, Toys for Tots will be donating toys to the program. However, the toys will not arrive until the day of the Adopt event. The EOPS team has already planned on having a follow up event that will take place a week later, with this second event benefiting those underprivileged that did not get to participate in this year’s Adopt an Angel.
The Adopt an Angel program hits close to home for Cornejo. She shared that she was raised on CalWORKs herself and has been a recipient of such fairs like this one. Now, working on the program and in charge of organizing the event for struggling students, she said it fills her with happiness and excitement for the children.
EOPS is signing up any FC student, along with faculty and staff, who is interested in volunteering for the day of their event. Contact Dolores Cornejo in the EOPS office at (714) 992-7097 or stop by the office in the 2000 building, room 2002 for more information.