Annual Give Thanks Give Back campaign kicks off

It’s time to Give Thanks Give Back.

The annual holiday gift-giving drive begins its push Monday, Oct. 11, with a four-day promotional campaign to get students, staff and faculty involved in giving back to the St. Louis-area community for the holidays.

Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Volunteers cut paper during a recent Give Thanks Give Back gift-wrapping party.

Students will be handing out information from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. beginning Monday, Oct. 11, through Thursday, Oct. 14, in the northeast courtyard of the Danforth University Center. A bingo night is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13, at Ursa’s Cafe in the South 40.

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to get involved or sign up on the group’s web page at

“Participating in Give Thanks Give Back is a way to burst the WUSTL bubble and truly have a remarkable impact on those in need in our communities,” says Lisa Thompson, a senior in the School of Engineering & Applied Science and co-chair of this year’s campaign. “These people are requesting assistance to get the daily essentials people need, such as winter coats and boots.

“But I do it because I like imagining the look on a little boy’s face when he opens up his brand new football or action figure that he has been waiting for months to get,” she says.

Give Thanks Give Back supports a group called “100 Neediest Cases,” a joint project of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the United Way. During the holiday season, 100 Neediest Cases identifies more than 10,000 cases of St. Louis-area residents struggling to overcome poverty.

As the holiday season approaches, the Post-Dispatch publishes the personal case stories of 100 families or individuals. Although each of the 10,000 cases will receive some assistance, only a small percentage of families are “adopted,” meaning that an individual or group agrees to buy gifts, clothing, household appliances or other requested items for the family.

Members of the university community normally adopt around 120 families each year, which amounts to more than 300 individuals.

University groups or individuals can begin adopting families following kick-off week. Gift-wrapping parties will take place Nov. 13 and Nov. 20 in the Danforth University Center.

The program has a history of success at the university. The Office of Student Activities became involved in 1998 when staff members adopted a single family. By 2001, the effort had evolved into a campus-wide program called Give Thanks Give Back.

In 2002, the university community adopted 83 families. In each of the past seven years, Give Thanks Give Back has adopted more than 100 families.

For more information or to volunteer to help, e-mail or visit