Angela Jones, UMF student from Brookhaven, Pennsylvania by the UMF “Giving Tree.” (Courtesy of UMF)

FARMINGTON — As 2022 winds down, University of Maine at Farmington students, faculty, and staff are busy wrapping up their semester, but not too busy to think of others. Efforts are underway throughout the campus to make the holiday season a little brighter throughout the community.

“Our campus community understands the importance of the greater Farmington community to UMF.  Even when they are busy with classes, finals and end of the semester tasks, they are finding ways to collaborate with local groups to make the holidays better for individuals and families in Franklin County,” said Christine Wilson, vice president for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management.

In its 17th year, the “Giving Tree” sponsored by the University Store, is kicking off their annual holiday gift drive. Once again, the holiday tradition is in partnership with the Farmington Elks Lodge and Operation Santa Claus. Members of the campus and local community are invited to stop by the store at 238 Main Street, and take a tag from the holiday tree to fulfill a special request or drop off a new, unwrapped gift of clothes, shoes, winter wear, toys, books, etc. from infant to adult sizes. Donations will be gratefully accepted until Dec. 16.

“There is a great demand for essentials like we have never seen before,” said Bonnie Chapman, volunteer with Operation Santa Claus and member of the Farmington Elks BPOE #2430. “Families are asking for winter clothing, jackets, boots, ski pants, long sleeve shirts, socks and underwear. The clothing need is great but we aren’t forgetting the Christmas wishes of the children who are hoping for that sled, baby doll or fire truck that Santa will leave under the tree. Our community is a wonderful caring place to live and we are very  proud to do our part.”

In addition to the Giving Tree, campus members are collaborating with Farmington Rotary, the Pierce House and the Franklin County Children’s Task Force in the annual Pajama Drive. Their goal is to collect 300 sets of new PJs for children of all sizes, newborn to adult, to distribute to those in need during the winter months. Donations of new socks are also welcome and will be distributed to local schools.

Pajamas may be dropped off until Dec. 16 at room 105 in the UMF Fusion Center on South Street, the UMF Admissions Office at 246 Main Street or the Franklin County Children’s Task force located on Church Street.

The UMF Student Athlete Advisory Committee has been busy collecting food and toys at athletic events to distribute to the community. Non-perishable food items were collected at November home games and brought to the Care and Share Food Closet in Farmington. Toys brought to athletic games on Dec. 10 will be distributed to the community through the University Store’s partnership with Operation Santa Claus.

“Our students and student athletes really embrace the campus and Farmington community as their home, especially at the holidays. That spirit of generosity and being a part of something bigger than yourself is something we can all be proud of,” said Jamie Beaudoin, director of UMF Athletics.