Penn State Mont Alto helps make the holidays bright for Franklin County families

Staff members gather for a photo with wrapped gifts

Penn State Mont Alto staff wrapped and delivered more than 350 presents to Franklin County Children and Youth Service on Dec. 19 as part of the campus’ Adopt a Family program. Back row: Deana Clevenger, administrative assistant, Records Office; Curtis Hoover, director, Student Affairs. Front row: Mary Jo Stevenson, administrative support assistant, Student Affairs; Lisa DeGregorio, administrative assistant, Student Affairs; Suzanne Noll, coordinator, Residence Life; and Patricia Gochenauer, career counselor, Career Services.

Credit: Penn State

MONT ALTO, Pa. — Penn State Mont Alto embraced the spirit of the season by wrapping more than 350 presents for Franklin County families in need on Thursday, Dec. 19.

This is the second year for Mont Alto’s Adopt a Family program, in conjunction with Franklin County Children and Youth Service.

Penn State Mont Alto Director of Student Affairs Curtis Hoover, who has spearheaded the holiday initiative since its inception, made it a goal to adopt even more families this year.

“Giving back to the community is important for us. Being part of Franklin County (Pa.), it’s important that Penn State Mont Alto gives back to our local community at this important time of year,” he said.

It’s just the beginning for Hoover, who plans to not only continue giving to those in need, but to step up that giving.

“Next year I’ll probably ask for more families — we want to help as many families as possible,” he said.

This year, the campus adopted 10 families, two more than were adopted last year.

The following campus clubs and departments participated: Finance and Business, Bookstore, Cheerleading, Enrollment Management, Student Affairs, Student Government Association, PR & Marketing/Campus Development, Nursing, Physical Therapy Assistant, Psychology/Human Development and Family Studies, Women’s Soccer and Basketball, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Housing and Food Services, Athletics, and Academic Support.

Hoover asked Franklin County Children and Youth Service for families who might not have the means to celebrate the holidays this year without the help of the Penn State community.

“Families struggle with spending money on presents when their priority is trying to make ends meet to provide for the basic needs of the family,” said Minnie Goshorn, assistant administrator for Franklin County Children and Youth Service.

By participating in this wonderful program, families worry less about having presents under the tree for their children. It helps reduce the extra stress that many feel during the holiday season, she said.

“Every year there continues to be an increase of families in need of help, not only during the holidays but throughout the entire year,” Goshorn said.

She continued: “We receive numerous donations for children, but rarely do we receive donations for the parents. It means a lot that Penn State Mont Alto provides gifts for the entire family.”

This year Penn State’s donations will provide a happy holiday for 44 children and adults, she said.

When the call went out for holiday presents, Student Government Association President Kirsten Tercek rallied the campus’ students behind the cause.

“We did it last year and really enjoyed giving back,” she said.

This year the group adopted two brothers, ages 1 and 5.

“There are kids out there who might not have a good Christmas, and I think that all kids should have the joy and excitement of opening presents on Christmas,” Tercek said.

The desire to give back is indicative of the Mont Alto family, she said.

“We’re all very caring about our surrounding communities and want to give back to the people that support us in the community,” Tercek said.

Seven members of the Enrollment Management team participated in this year’s program, buying gifts for a family of five — two adults and three children ages 5, 2 and 4 months.

“We wanted to help others in the community and give them support during this time. And it was nice that it was the whole family,” said Antonia Spedden, student aid coordinator.

Spedden said the generous spirit of the Penn State family is nothing new.

“Penn State is ingrained in our community, and I think the community makes us who we are as Penn State. So, it’s important for us to give back to them as well,” she said.