In what has become a long-standing tradition, The University of South Carolina School of Law once again participated in the Palmetto Project’s “Families Helping Families” initiative, helping spread a little holiday joy to two needy families in the Midlands. And by all accounts, this was one of the most successful years for the project, with faculty and staff contributing almost $1500 in monetary donations. Add to this the many gifts that were purchased directly, and the total exceeds $2000.
Rebekah Maxwell, the associate director for library operations at the Coleman Karesh Law Library, organized this year’s drive, but was quick to point out that it really is a community project that encompasses the whole school.
“It really takes a team of ‘elves’ to pull this off every year, and I’m so thankful for everyone who contributed, whether it was through their thoughtful and generous donations, or through the time they gave to wrap all the presents,” she said.
This was Maxwell’s first year as the onsite coordinator, sharing duties with Pam Dawes, who had directed the program for the law school since the 1990s, but retired earlier this year. Not ready to step away though, Dawes remains intimately involved in Families Helping Families, serving as the the chief shopping elf, organizing and tagging gifts, and delivering all the packages to the Palmetto Project in her white pick-up “sleigh.”
Traditionally, South Carolina Law picks two households to help, and this year was no exception, adopting a family with three young children, and a senior citizen. Guidelines for the project ask that each family member receive at least one age-appropriate toy and book, an article of clothing, and a gift card to help cover a Christmas dinner. But Maxwell said the Law School has always been able to do more, fulfilling almost all of the requests on each family’s wish list.
“Some of the most common requests we see are for winter coats, bicycles, bed linens, and pots and pans,” said Maxwell. “They ask for some remarkably basic stuff, which just shows how great the need is. It’s great that our law family is so willing to help.”
Nell Killoy, the program director for Families Helping Families, agrees. “The outpouring of support from the Law School has been tremendous. We’ve been doing this for 22 years now, and it is truly a community effort. Thanks to organizations like USC Law, we’re able to provide Christmas assistance for more than 2500 families in our local communities this year alone.”