While the holiday season rings with joyous celebrations among friends and family, it can also be a difficult time for children and families undergoing financial hardship as parents and caregivers struggle to afford gifts. Two Montgomery College student clubs have been doing their part to ensure that underprivileged kids receive toys this holiday season.
Junga Kim, an MC nursing student and a member of the Alpha Delta Nu Nursing Honors Society, coordinated a month-long toy drive started in October, to collect toys for local children served by Hope House DC. Hope House is a nonprofit organization that began in 2001 when Washington DC’s Lorton Correctional Institution was closed, and nearly 8,000 convicted felons from the District were transferred to federal prisons across the United States. Hope House serves the inmates’ children and families, now too far from their dads to visit them. It also helps them stay connected via video calls, book reading, and homework help, along with other programs.
“Hope House was created to keep those connections,” Kim said. “It keeps them involved. It has been shown that once inmates are involved and still connected to their family and their community, there’s less of a chance of them going back.”
Kim learned of Hope House when representatives from the organization visited her daughter’s school for a book drive. When it came time for her MC club to work on a capstone project, she reached out to them wanting to help.
Even if the gift isn’t the most extravagant or as technologically sophisticated as what kids get nowadays, it will still be just as valuable, because it came from our hearts and from our desire to help out the community
“With a dad in prison, the primary breadwinner for most of our families is the mom who often works multiple jobs to make ends meet,” said Carol Fennelly, Hope House’s executive director. “At Christmas time, many children in our program will only receive gifts from Hope House. Moms depend on us to make their children’s holiday a little brighter.”
The nonprofit provides gifts to 75 to100 children across the DMV area, and a few outside the area.
The local impact was an important element for Rosanna Broadbent, one of the 22 members of the nursing club who were part of the project: “This is all in our community. We are a community school. We all live in the DMV, and this is an organization that directly affects people in our lives, even if tangentially,” she says. “We can literally do a donation collection and then drive it to where it needs to be. I live in DC and this could affect kids who go to school with my kids.”
In addition to the local toy drive, the Rockville Student Construction Association collected items for The Salvation Army until December 10. Danny Chu, club president, said the club had done it in the past and wanted to continue the tradition.
“Even though I and some other members are not religious, we still enjoy the coming winter holidays. I think it is a great time for people to get together and celebrate for the sake of celebrating, no matter the reason,” Chu said. “The Salvation Army’s toy drive is a great program because it will help out those who may not be as fortunate as we are. Even if the gift isn’t the most extravagant or as technologically sophisticated as what kids get nowadays, it will still be just as valuable, because it came from our hearts and from our desire to help out the community.”