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Groups from UNG help families with gifts and essentials before holidays

Community Awareness club toy drive
The Community Awareness Club hosted a Christmas party for eight foster families, providing gifts for 15 children.

A pair of groups from the University of North Georgia (UNG) helped make Christmas special for families.

The Community Awareness Group, a student organization based on the Gainesville Campus, hosted a Christmas party at Christ Place Church on Dec. 14 for eight foster families, partnering with PPG, Cheddar's, LongHorn Steakhouse and Outback Steakhouse to provide gifts and dinner for the families. At the party, 15 children received gifts collected by PPG and Cheddar's employees.

"One mother shared that this would be the last Christmas she shares with her twin girls before they are moved back with their biological father," said Gabriela Miranda, club vice president and junior from Cumming, Georgia, majoring in communications. "She expressed her gratitude for the kind donation of gifts so her family could enjoy one last Christmas together filled with gifts, love and bittersweet goodbyes."

The club started in August and has held several events this fall, with plans to hold more events in the spring.

"Our reason for this club is to create a culture of giving back," said Zelma Estrada, club president and a junior from Woodstock, Georgia, majoring in kinesiology. "And this Christmas party for foster families was our way of showing them how much we appreciate and care for them."

The Oconee Campus Student Government Association (SGA), Students Teaching Equity Programming (STEP) and Spanish Club recently collected clothes, toys, hygiene products, school supplies, shoes, and blankets and delivered them to Oasis, a tutoring center in Athens.

Oasis is a community partner for UNG's Oconee Campus, as Spanish students participate in service-learning spearheaded by faculty member Joe Lavelle. They practice their Spanish skills through helping Latino children enrolled in the program learn English.

Allison Naidoo, president of the Oconee Campus SGA and the Ambassadors who is a social work major set to earn her associate degree in July 2019, led the efforts to help Oasis.

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