WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williams College Athletic Department purchased and distributed more than 1,500 Christmas gifts for children as part of the Holiday Wish program at Hillcrest Educational Centers in Pittsield for the 14th year.
Williams athletes held its wrapping party on Dec. 9 in the Lasell Gym.
"This program has provided Eph athletic department staff, coaches, athletes, and teams the opportunity to sponsor children each Christmas season with donated presents to be opened on Christmas morning — gifts that probably would not exist for many of these children," said Tammy Wright, the coordinator of schedule and team travel for the Ephs, who organizes and supervises the Holiday Wish program at Williams.
Through the Holiday Wish Program each child makes up to five wish tags for something they would like for Christmas. A sponsor then selects a gift tag (valued at $25) and either shops for the gift or donates the money to Wright so she can coordinate the purchase of the gift. Many times items on the tag does not total up to the $25; in which case a few extra gifts are added to reach $25.
"We've never purchased and distributed less than 100 gifts in a year and the past four years we've purchased 125," said Wright.
Eighteen teams and several members of the Athletic Department participated in the program this year. Hillcrest is a residential and educational center for children with severe behavioral issues. Many of the center's students have moderate to severe learning disabilities as well. The center had 150 special-needs children in its care this fall who do not have or cannot go to family for the holidays.