Joseph McKeen
Center for the Common Good

Ten Years of Sponsor-A-Family at Bowdoin College

Story posted December 12, 2011

Sponsor-A-Family is a volunteer effort organized by The Bath Salvation Army to provide holiday assistance to families in need. While the Salvation Army is a Christian organization, they welcome all low-income families seeking holiday assistance to join the program, regardless of religion.

With the help of athletic teams, proctor and RA groups, college houses, student groups, academic departments, college offices, and individual students, faculty, and staff, Bowdoin College has been participating in the Sponsor-A-Family program for ten years now - sponsoring an average of 36 families each year.

Each sponsor is matched with a local family that has requested assistance and is expected to provide:
• Three or more new gifts for each child
• A new outfit for each child
• A holiday dinner (supermarket gift certificate) for the family
• Additional family gifts for the parents or entire family are also welcomed, but optional.

Every year The Bath Salvation Army accepts over 300 applications from families requesting assistance during the holidays.  Their efforts are supported by local individuals, businesses, and organizations.  For more information about participating in the Sponsor-A-Family program, please contact Bethany at The Bath Salvation Army, 207-443-3611.

Reflections from a few participants:

"We've been sponsoring a family through the Salvation Army for many years now. The program is a reminder to us of both how fortunate we are and what a challenging time of year this is for many families. The program is extremely well run and we're thankful to be able to participate."
- Charles Dorn, Associate Professor of Education

"While every Bowdoin student is dealing with the stress of exams right now, Sponsor-A-Family is a way to look outside the Bowdoin Bubble and realize there are other, more important things than taking exams and writing papers. Sponsor-A-Family is one of my favorite programs because it is something small the Bowdoin community can do to help out families in the Brunswick area who need a little help during the holiday season. I love the idea of giving back to the Brunswick community, a town that has given me so much during my time at Bowdoin."
-Laurel Varnell '14

"Our family has taken on a Salvation Army family regularly-- in a season that can so often turn into a time centered on 'what I want,' the program has served as a great corrective, and helps us connect in a small way with those in our community who have serious basic needs. It's been a blessing for us to be able to share with them out of our abundance."
- Bob Judd, Executive Director, American Musicological Society

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My soccer team at Bowdoin is involved in the Sponsor A Family program.  It is gratifying knowing that we are able to make this holiday season special for a local family and that we can make a difference in their lives.
— Ellery Gould '12