South’s Adopt a Family has successful year fueled by student giving

This year, South provided money, food, and presents for 24 Grosse Pointe families. Graphic courtesy of Aidan Walsh 20.

Aidan Walsh

This year, South provided money, food, and presents for 24 Grosse Pointe families. Graphic courtesy of Aidan Walsh ’20.

Dominic Dulac '20, Web Section Editor

South’s annual Adopt a Family program has helped out members of the Grosse Pointe community for five years now, according to project co-chair Hannah Voytowich ’18, and this holiday season brought another gift-giving opportunity to all students.

Adopt a Family was a district-wide event, but at South students pooled money with their third hour peers in order to raise funds that eventually bought Christmas presents for the children of families in the North district.

“We wanted it to be a whole-school event… we wanted to make it more about other people and helping out the whole community, because we’re all about ‘one GP,’” Voytowich said. “We wanted to give the opportunity for students to go out and be able to do something just for the holidays and give back for everyone.”

The school took this opportunity in stride. According to Voytowich’s co-chair counterpart, Julia Hudson ’20, students were allowed to help in every part of the gift-giving process.

“(Students) were really generous in bringing in money, and I know we had our first gift-wrapping session open to the school, and people came to that and helped wrap gifts, so that was really nice,” Hudson said. “And just volunteering to help deliver– anything helps for those families.”

According to Student Association advisor Laura Distelrath, classes were able to contribute on different levels so no one would have an unattainable goal.

“Some classes raised money, and then they gave me the money and we distributed it to the classes that needed additional funds for their family,” Distelrath said. “Some classes adopted a family, and so with that, in some rooms they were able to raise all of the money that they needed. Other classes weren’t able to raise enough money to provide those gifts and the food, so then we looked at it and said ‘ok, would another $50 help, or another $100?’ (And) those classes that just raised money– that’s what the money went towards.”

One opportunity that was available to students in classes that adopted their own families was shopping. According to Hudson, this year was slightly different from past years because the families gave the classes suggestions for gifts, so that each child could get exactly what they asked for.

“This year we tried really hard to do it more personal; based on the kids,” Hudson said. “So we asked the families about their interests, and with that people went out and bought their own gifts… I know younger kids got Hatchimals and dolls, and for older kids I know someone got a speaker, and stuff like that.”

But the goal of Adopt a Family is bigger than just the material gifts. According to Voytowich, the purpose of the program was to make sure that families who did not have the means to produce a proper Christmas could enjoy a happy holiday.

“There never really is an overall goal that we want to achieve with adopt a family,” Voytowich said. “It’s just that we want to make sure that every family has a Christmas and that it’s a good one. (It’s) not where we want to raise $15,000; we just want to make sure that every kid has a good amount of presents and the family has just the right amount of food.”

Overall, Hudson, Voytowich, and Distelrath all agreed that the program went very well this year.

“I was very impressed with the generosity of students across the building,” Distelrath said. Whether it was time that people were giving to go shopping, or to donate, or the amount of money that people brought in or just items that they donated; everyone was just very giving, and it was really cool to see it all come together and just to see the amount we were able to give these families and how much we were able to help them.”