All of the student parents served by the SPHC are low income as verified by information provided on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All students participating in the SPHC Gifts for Little Gophers program are further screened for greatest economic need and specific family or personal hardship that may be preventing the students and their children from celebrating the holidays.
Our student parents typically do not qualify for other holiday assistance programs. When community-based agencies find out they are attending the U of M, they assume they are economically more secure than the working poor or unemployed families typically served by various community based programs. Our U of M students, however, support themselves and their family through the financial aid and loans they receive, along with the hours they work when not in class or with their children. Their educational and household expenses don’t provide anything extra for holiday gifts. In some cases, students are estranged from their own families due to the pregnancy which has occurred.
The SPHC staff will distribute the donated gifts during the last week of fall term before students leave campus for winter break. Student identities remain anonymous due to confidentiality and student privacy issues.