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Foster Children’s Holiday Party marks its 25th year

November 13, 2012

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the annual Foster Children’s Holiday Party (FCHP), an alumni-sponsored event for 150 to 200 foster children from local communities around Tufts. The party provides an afternoon escape to Alumnae Lounge where foster children can celebrate the holidays with their families and enjoy free books, gifts, food, an a cappella performance or two—and a visit from Santa.  

“It’s a labor of love,” volunteer and Cummings School staff member Jonathan Burton says. The event has become a well-oiled machine over the years thanks to tireless volunteer dedication and the work of the Office of Alumni Relations.

FCHP committee

“We’re trying to give back to Tufts,” says Scott Reed, a veteran FCHP committee member. “We’re trying to get a good reputation for Tufts in terms of being a community player as well as providing an opportunity for people to give back to the community.”

Reed has been working on the party almost since its inception, when volunteers would go to the store themselves and choose presents to be wrapped and packaged up for Santa’s sack. Now, gifts are bought through a company that sells them at a discount to charitable efforts of this nature.

Another change: the party has expanded to include foster children from multiple towns beyond Medford, as well as children from Medford Family Life, a home for survivors of domestic abuse.

Through the years, more opportunities have arisen for both student and alumni volunteers to make this event an annual tradition. Wrap night is always on the men’s varsity baseball team’s calendar; the team helps wrap gifts for the kids and carry packages to vans for delivery to the party. The Jackson Jills have performed at the party for years. Organizers hope to get even more student groups involved.

“One thing we are doing this year that we haven’t done in past years is having a lot more student groups perform,” says Barry Kaufman, A07, another committee member. “It’s a nice change of pace—putting on performances, giving the children exposure to groups at Tufts and allowing Tufts students to be involved.”

Wrap night is prime time for alumni-student connection and conversation. Kaplan says, “It’s nice for everyone, especially for students to hear what alumni are doing when they’re out in life.”

The time of year is ripe for giving thanks and remembering those less fortunate. Long-time committee member Dan Kaplan, A96, says that in the end, it’s all about the kids—and seeing them grow. Many children first attend as infants and become familiar faces at the crafts table or the book nook every year.

“Hopefully this will continue and enable us to keep it going year after year—for another 25 years,” says Kaufman.