Staff Council donates gifts to needy families

Photo credit: Sam Rivera
Presents are everywhere the stadium is packed with 75 tables completely covered with presents.

Teddy bears, bicycles and Kleen Kanteens are some of the visible unwrapped presents.

On Dec. 11, the university’s Needy Children Program, which is conducted by Chico State’s Staff Council, held a reception to celebrate this year’s program.

The event brought together faculty, staff, students and social workers at the University Farm to enjoy the hard work they put in.

Dana Francis, the co-chair for the Needy Children Program, said this year the program helped 72 families and 151 children who have been reunited with their families or are staying with relatives.

“Our campus has come through again with generous donations,” Francis said, according to a press release. “It touches my heart to be able to give to children who are in need. It is wonderful we are able to do this year after year.”

Francis was also able to provide presents to non-minor dependents, adults who have extended their foster care after moving out.

Laura Anderson, the social worker supervisor, has been overwhelmed every year by the support and generosity from Chico State.

“When I came to my first reception as social worker supervisor, I didn’t expect to see this many presents,” Anderson said. “I was expecting one bag and not 80.”

Anderson said that social workers’ jobs are usually seen in a negative way, but every social worker looks forward to this time of year.

“Our job is not always enjoyable but this time of year is nice, “ she said. “Although the children and families have had a rough year, we know they will at least have a nice Christmas.”

After the event, the social workers stop by to pick up families’ presents or a truck driver delivers gifts to the workers’ offices between Chico and Oroville.

Craig Busse has been driving the truck for a few years now.

“Craig is like Santa with a list,” said Michelle Holmes, staff volunteer at the event.

Busse looks forward to this time of year because of the good will and fun he has delivering to social workers.

“If I make a delivery and the social worker is out of their cubicle, I tell my co-workers to hurry up and pack their cubicle with the presents until there is no room for them to move, “ Busse said. “I love doing that. Sometimes it is so packed that the presents spill out into the passageway.”

Busse said the social workers often will drop the presents off at the children’s homes while they are at school or out. Most of the time, it takes about a week for the social workers to get all the presents delivered.

Melanie O’Connor is the Staff Council office manager and oversees the gifts for the families.

“Every family gets a gift card to Food Max,” O’Connor said.

Anderson said that this year, Kleen Kanteens were donated for all the children. Anne Russell, a retired Chico State employee, also comes back every year and gives a stuffed animal to each child.

“We all come together every year to spread the holiday cheer and joy,” Anderson said.

Chantal Richards can be reached at [email protected] or @ChantieRichards on Twitter.