Being a McGill student is challenging, as is being a parent. Combine the two – a McGill student who also has a child – and throw in the holiday season, when economic pressures sometimes make it tough to buy presents, and you have a potential recipe for rising stress levels.
With this in mind, the Family Care Program of the Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE) has joined forces with the Post Graduate Students (PGSS) Society to expand the holiday gift program for the children of McGill student parents. Sponsors sign up to buy a gift for one of these children to make their holiday season all the happier.
“We want to make the holidays fun for the kids of McGill students. We want to make people feel seen, heard and appreciated,” says Julia Pingeton, the Family Resources Coordinator with SEDE and one of the organizers of the gift drive.
The gift drive was started last year by the PGSS with Christmas stockings in Thompson House. Pingeton has been working with Jenny Ann Pura, Membership Services Officer with PGSS, to expand the program by including undergrad student parents, and opening the program up to sponsorship by members of staff and faculty.
There is no data on the number of student parents at McGill, but there are about 400 on a list serv run by SEDE’s Family Care program. The ages of the children in the program range from just a few weeks to teenagers. So far 50 families, some with multiple children, have signed up, and about 35 sponsors/donors have come forward.
Many parents in the gift program are newly arrived to Canada and a long way from their families. Some are from out of province, some are single parents and on single-incomes. Many are on tight budgets and can’t afford to travel to see family. “The holidays can be very stressful emotionally and financially for all students, and especially student parents,” says Pingeton. “We are hoping people come forward to share.”
Here’s how the holiday gift drive works:
- Student parents sign up their children to receive a holiday gift from sponsors.
- Sponsors sign up to sponsor a family or child.
- The Family Care Program matches up sponsors and families confidentially.
- Organizers tell sponsors what gift has been requested by a family (or the general age range and interests of a child if no specific gift is requested), and they will drop off the unwrapped gift to the SEDE Family Resources Coordinator.
- Families can pick up their gift at the Dec. 7 holiday party, or any time before Dec. 22.
There is a $20 ceiling on the value of the gifts.
If you’re a student parent interested in receiving a gift or gifts for your child or children, please fill out the following form.
If you are interested in donating one or more gift, please fill in this form.