Thomas Jefferson

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Expanding the TJ Family

Posted 12/15/2014 by Thomas Silverstein

TJ’s DECA program leads an effort to help families in need.

The holiday season is a time when families and friends can gather and be grateful for what they have. However, many families do not have as much as others and need help to make the holidays brighter. Since the holiday season is all about giving, TJ’s Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) program is just one of the many organizations trying to make a difference.

Each year DECA organizes a program called Adopt-a-Family, which is devoted to donating gifts to less fortunate families of TJ students. During the holiday season DECA adopts TJ families that are financially challenged and provides them with holiday food and presents. The families tell DECA how many family members there are, their ages, and what each person wants as a present. The families are kept anonymous, and students and families can donate things such as gift cards, toys, and clothes. This year there will be seventeen families taken care of through this generous outreach project.

At the end of the project, all of the donations will be collected and the presents will be wrapped and ready to be given to the families. On December 16, DECA will have a party where students wrap all the gifts. In recent years, DECA has reached out to other clubs and classes such as Interact, Leadership, National Honor Society, and SkillsUSA to help with donations and wrapping.

The Adopt-a-Family project gives students the chance to feel that they are making a difference to families. DECA president Nancy Enriquez explained, “It’s a great opportunity for the students to come together and to show that everyone in the school cares about each other and are willing to help each other. After all, Christmas is the time of giving.” She also commented that the most important thing about the program is that the families know that they have the support of the school and the students, and have an amazing holiday season.

Marketing teacher and DECA advisor Matt Nicolo started this program to carry on a childhood tradition. He commented, “When I was young, my mom and her friends used to drive all over town and deliver gifts to the financially challenged students in her school.” He believes that the best part of the program is knowing that students can bring joy to the families. “We always talk about TJ family, and we need to act like family and step up to help those in need during the holidays,” he said. Nicolo feels that this program is one of the many ways we can improve our relationships with each other and give back to the community.

Nicolo knows he is making a difference, and hopes that other students will participate and feel the same way. “Not only does it make you feel like you are doing something right, it makes you feel good because you know you are giving to someone that is having a hard time and wouldn’t be able to buy some of the things we can donate,” he explained. If students are interested in donating, gifts can be dropped in Nicolo’s classroom (room 106). The best things to donate are gift cards to places like Walmart, Target, or King Soopers, where the families can buy groceries. Also, there is awebsite where students can see what the family members want so they know what to buy.

Along with DECA, other groups are taking part in Adopt-a-Family, such as the newspaper class. “For at least the past twenty years, the newspaper staff has adopted a family for this wonderful cause. It’s a tradition that the students love, and it’s one that I’m proud to continue,” said newspaper advisor Eileen Adair. Other clubs getting involved can strengthen the cause and bring awareness to other students.

Taking part in Adopt-a-Family is only one way to embrace the holiday spirit and give more than what is received. The members of DECA hope that they receive a generous amount of donations and are able to make the holidays brighter for the families.

For those hoping to donate gifts, the information can be found at this link: