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With the holidays fast approaching, Pamela Morgan worries about the pandemic’s financial strain on young families in Oak Park, the diverse neighborhood adjacent to the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento.
“A lot of parents right now are losing their jobs or have lost their jobs and are struggling tremendously,” said Morgan, the program director at Oak Park Preschool.
Despite a lack of resources during the economic downturn, the preschool children can always count on a generous group of employees from UC Davis Health who have provided holiday cheer, through presents and school supplies, for the past 22 years.
This time around, the African American Faculty and Staff Association (AAFSA), in collaboration with the UC Davis Health community, is emphasizing online giving to collect funds to support children at the preschool’s two locations.
Morgan says the annual outreach makes a huge difference in the lives of preschool families: The UC Davis Health initiative guarantees that children have at least one gift under their Christmas tree, which puts parents at ease.
“It’s hard during the holidays for parents to buy toys and food and things for their kids,” she said. “UC Davis Health has made such a strong impact on helping our families at Oak Park Preschool.”
The annual giving campaign, which in a normal year consists of collection jars around the health campus, has had an increasingly strong participation rate.
“I remember back when I first started helping with the penny drive, we would maybe raise $300, $400, $500,” said Charlene Green, the AAFSA treasurer. “Since we ramped up our efforts to engage our UC Davis Health community, we’ve been raising upwards of $1,000 to $2,000 every single year to give back to our local Oak Park community.”
Early indications this time – as fewer people are working on campus due to the novel coronavirus pandemic – show that fundraising is on the uptick, Green said, because donors are often more generous when transferring money through Venmo.
(Donations can be made via Venmo @UCDavisHealth-AAFSA or by scanning the QR code on this flyer).
“We’re hoping this year we can invest more in the preschool itself, especially in the families who are likely essential workers themselves,” said Green, who is admissions director for the School of Medicine.
“We want to provide classroom gifts, learning tools and things that can make learning fun for children this year, particularly during this global pandemic where children are adjusting to the new reality that we have,” she added.
Lyndon Huling, vice chair of AAFSA, said he appreciates UC Davis Health employees sharing the holiday spirit.
“The support that folks who donate to this cause provide is essential to how the program operates and its success,” said Huling, manager of leadership, recruitment and diversity services for UC Davis Health human resources.
He added: “I would encourage everyone to consider donating, to do their part and invest in their local community.”
The giving campaign ends Nov. 29.