Each Holiday season, UDFB partners with University Village for their Winter Wishes program. Food bank customers fill out wish lists for their children written on tags, which are hung on trees at U-Village. Individuals then select a tag and purchase the items, which are picked up by the food bank and distributed to families the day before Christmas Eve. This year, we received gifts for 75 families.
Marc and Rene Therrien have been volunteering for the gift distribution for 14 years, leading the event for most of that time. They first got involved when their daughter Ellie was 10 year old and part of the Pioneer Girls at University Presbyterian. The Therriens responded to a call for volunteers, and now 14 years later, Ellie confidently instructs new volunteers on their system. “It’s the one thing as a family, where we’re able to get outside of ourselves and give back,” Marc explains. “It’s also important for us to give our kids this experience, for them to interact with people they wouldn’t ordinarily meet.”
Each year, the Therriens rally volunteers, mostly family friends, to help organize and distribute gifts to food bank customers. This years’ group was the largest yet, with over 20 volunteers. Volunteers enthusiastically moved throughout the UCC Social Hall, matching gifts with their respective wish lists, distributing other donated items such as hand-knitted hats, gloves, and scarves, bagging them up, and retrieving bags when their owners arrived to claim them.
Elise Graue has been volunteering for Winter Wishes with her family for five years. “My favorite part is when the families arrive and we’re able to see their joy when they receive the gifts, and the impact we’re making,” she says.
We’d like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who fulfilled Winter Wishes gift requests, the Therrien family, and their team of volunteers for helping the distribution run smoothly. Thank you for bringing some holiday joy to food bank kids this season. Happy holidays!