Give-a-Gift Campaign Goes Over Big with NDA Community


Joseph Giganti, Adah Danen, Staff Writers, Journalism I

For 20 years, Notre Dame Academy has been doing the annual “Give-A-Gift” project. 

This year, it’s going to be different, according to Mrs. Gina Fredrick, IT coordinator and Student Government adviser.

Usually they keep the list to strictly individuals 18 or under, but this year it changed. 

“This year with COVID, we felt the parents needed help too. We adopted seven whole families to give gifts to, children and adults,”  Fredrick said. 

For the last 12 years,  Fredrick and Frau Laaksonen have been in charge of “Give-A-Gift,” a yearly project that gives the NDA community the opportunity to help those in need at Christmas. 

Fredrick, an NDA alum who has worked here 18 years, explained that former campus minister Sister Laura Zelten initiated the annual drive. 

This year, there were 74 tags, and a record was set for how fast people accepted the names. 

So how exactly does Give-A-Gift work? 

“We have a coordinator at a public school,” Mrs. Fredrick said, “which we keep anonymous, who gives us the names. Then we set up the virtual tree and promote it here at NDA.” 

They also make sure that, when they have siblings, the gifts match in quality. 

“We make sure that we aren’t in a situation where one sibling is getting this big, expensive gift, and the other one is getting a small one,” Mrs. Fredrick explained. 

Usually Frau and Fredrick wrap the gifts, but due to the sheer number of presents this year, Student Government members will be involved as well. 

“Frau is setting up five tables in her room and Student Government will come in and help us wrap,” Mrs. Fredrick explained. 

Once the gifts are wrapped, normally the families come into the school after hours to pick up their gifts. 

This year, however, Frau and Fredrick will be delivering a select number of gifts to families’ porches. 

Asked for the reason of anonymity, Fredrick explained, ““We want to be respectful of people’s situations. We celebrate that they are asking for help, but they might not feel the same way.” 

“It brings tears to my eyes because so many people here are able to do that, able to give these gifts to these strangers. It’s beautiful,” said a teary-eyed Mrs. Carolyn Brown.  (Joseph Giganti)

Another  Journalism student’s story. .  . 

“It’s obviously my favorite time of the year for many reasons. Just seeing what families bring in for complete strangers,” said Gina Fredrick, IT coordinator at Notre Dame Academy. 

For the past 20 years Notre Dame has organized the Give-a-Gift project where the NDA community can donate to families who are struggling to provide gifts for their children during the holidays. 

Fredrick has worked with the Give-a-Gift outreach project for ten years after taking over for Sister Laura Zelten,  former campus minister at Notre Dame. 

Fredrick has worked as an NDA IT coordinator for the past 18 years and has also become an NDA student government adviser, working with other staff members to create projects like Give-a-Gift. 

Fredrick has dedicated lots of time to the Give-a-Gift project and has helped Notre Dame adopt seven families this holiday season. 

“We felt the adults needed help too, so this year we adopted seven entire families,” said Fredrick. 

In the years prior Give-a-Gift has only donated to children, but after the recent years, Give-a-Gift has expanded its donations to adults and families in need. 

This year Notre Dame was given 74 names that were in need of help, and within 48 hours all 74 names were taken by students, parents, and staff at NDA. 

Although all 74 names were picked this year, when names are left Notre Dame’s own student government uses its funds in order to provide everyone with gifts during the holiday season. 

Recipients of gifts were asked to create a list of things they needed, and wanted, during Christmas so that donors would be able to select certain items from the list to donate. 

“Some people took these lists and bought everything on them,” said Fredrick. 

All gifts are dropped off on December 17th, just in time for Christmas.  (Adah Danen)