By Tawny Dotson, Clover Park Technical College
LAKEWOOD – The mental and fiscal challenges of pursuing higher education can be difficult for college students. Those challenges can be even more difficult for students who are supporting families in addition to attending class. Today more than 47 groups and individual staff, faculty, students and friends of Clover Park Technical College contributed to a very merry holiday season for 75 student families.
In an annual event entitled Holiday House, the CPTC community adopted student families and provided them with gifts, food, gift cards and a chance to meet Santa.
“Lots of students come through and say their families would not have had a Christmas if they didn’t have this,” said Debbie Gurner, who works at the Northwest Career and Technical High School at CPTC and has been involved in the Holiday House event for more than 25 years.
In addition to being a planner of the event Gurner was once a recipient of assistance from the Holiday House.
“My involvement is personal. Once when I was a single mom the Holiday House gave me $15 and you would have thought they had given me a hundred,” said Gurner. “Each of my kids and I got $5 toward Christmas and it was great.”
Gurner is one of many CPTC employees who volunteer their time each year to put on the college-wide event. A committee of volunteers plans fundraisers, manages the application and family adoption process and plans a sophisticated gift pick-up event featuring Santa, cookies and punch, and activities for children.
Heather Ervin, administrative assistant at the CPTC Foundation, has been working and donating to the Holiday House event for 8 years.
“Students self identify that they would like assistance and are screened to ensure they meet the guidelines of the Holiday House program,” said Ervin. “In addition to the many presents, food and gift cards donated, just over $600 was raised in an on-campus fundraiser and another $3,000 was donated from other sources.”
The contributions to the event extend beyond the campus boundaries as well.
“A local group, Lakewood Families in Business, holds a chocolate auction among their members and has donated the proceeds for the last several years,” said Ervin. “This is usually a few thousand dollars.”
During the pick-up event, held at the McGavick Center on the Lakewood Campus of CPTC, smiles were plentiful. In fact, it was hard to tell who was smiling more, the families receiving the presents or the volunteers who donated them. One thing is certain; this campus is dedicated to providing more than just help achieving educational goals. They are coming together to ensure the students are successful members of the CPTC community.