But this year, students from the Spencer Triad area did their part by adopting three families in the Chapel Hill area.
Adopt a Family is a project that matches needy families with charitable groups. The groups help families, especially during Thanksgiving and holiday seasons, when children would notice if they do not receive any presents.
Angela Mead, Residence Hall Association area governor for Spencer Triad, said she and her staff organized the project for students to sign up to buy clothing and toys for the families.
"We chose to do it now because the times are tough economically and a lot of people are not going to have a good Christmas otherwise," she said.
The RHA area government wanted to provide an outlet for students to help people who are less fortunate, Mead said.
"During finals everyone is panicking, and it's nice to be able to say you helped and feel good about what you've done," she said.
The items will be collected Monday and then dropped off to the Department of Social Services on Dec. 13.
Beachy Sanders, office supervisor of the Department of Social Services for Orange County, said she encourages more student groups to adopt families during the holiday season.
"These are needy families," she said. "I provide the groups with a list of family needs and another list of what they would like, and it's up to the sponsor to provide what the family actually gets."
Mead said most students are happy to help once they realize how much of a difference they can make.
Ryland Williams, a sophomore from Greensboro, offered to buy items because she wanted to brighten the holidays for other families.
"Although I'm a lowly college student and I'm broke, I still have the ability to help other people," she said.
Williams' personal experiences also influenced her to take part in the project.
"I've participated in this before, and I've met the families," she said. "The looks on their faces and their appreciation is more than enough for me to do it again.
"It reminds people that they are cared about."
In addition to the Adopt a Family programs, the Spencer Triad area and the Ehringhaus area governments also donated food before Thanksgiving Break to the Interfaith Council, a local nonprofit homeless shelter.
"We wanted to reach as many people as possible," said Tenika Mercer, area governor of Ehringhaus RHA.
Mercer said they started with a featherless turkey then asked students to buy feathers for $1 each to decorate the turkey.
Over a period of two weeks, they raised about $115 from Ehringhaus residents and bought canned goods and paper products for the IFC.
IFC Executive Director Chris Moran said it is important to remember that needs exist all year.
"We want folks to always be thinking about our food pantry and kitchen needs," Moran said.
"We depend upon donations and volunteers to keep things rolling every day of the year."
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