Adopt a Family for the Holiday Season

The Student Parent HELP Center (SPHC), is a program of the University of Minnesota, Office for Student Affairs which serves low income undergraduates who are pregnant or parenting children while working toward their BA/BS degrees. The SPHC is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the US and has been serving low income students since 1967 and student parents exclusively since 1984.

The SPHC student parents are dedicated, hard-working students who are making sacrifices to get an education and provide a better future for their children. All students served by the SPHC are financial aid eligible due to their low income status, most are in the lowest EFC (expected family contribution) range on their FAFSA. The support they receive through this program helps students who might not be able to afford holiday gifts for their children after paying for tuition, books, rent, child care, and other family expenses.

There is typically a 24 hour waiting period before your selection is confirmed due to the fact that with the rapid donor activity, we must first make sure no families have been adopted by more

Alternate Sponsorships

If you would prefer to make a monetary donation, rather than shop for a family, you may make a donation on-line through the SPHC website. You may also send a check, payable to the University of Minnesota Foundation with Student Parent Help Center Adopt-a-Family Program in the memo line. Checks should be sent to: University of Minnesota Foundation, P.O. Box 70870, C-M-3854, St. Paul, Minnesota 55170-3854.

Online donations can be made at Please go to the SPHC homepage and look for the DONATE NOW BUTTON located at the bottom of the homepage, just under photos of our past SPHC student events. This menu offers two donation options: Our year round, SPHC Student Emergency Support Assistance fund or the Adopt a Family donation option. We will use any donations to the Adopt a Family account to provide families with grocery store gift certificates for holiday dinners or for any student who is not adopted or enters the program too late to submit a wish-list. The on-going emergency assistance fund helps students in crises with one time small grants of $1000 to assist with eviction prevention, car repairs or tuition payments.

About the SPHC Families

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 Adopt-A-Family 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 the Salvation Army and other programs. This is simply not true. Our U of M student support themselves and their families through the financial aid and loans they receive, along with the hours they work when not in class or with their children. Many are not able to maintain employment due to their single parent status, or academic rigor of their major. Their educational and household expenses do not allow for anything extra for holiday gifts. Often our students are estranged from their own families due to the pregnancy that has occurred, so there may be no external family support as well.

The SPHC staff will distribute the donated gifts to our student families during the last week of fall term before students leave campus for winter break.

Student identities always remain anonymous due to confidentiality issues.


For more information about
SPHC or the Adopt-a-Family project contact

Susan Warfield
Program Director, the Student Parent HELP Center
Office for Student Affairs

For technical issues regarding
the Adopt-a-Family family selection contact

Savina Proykova
Office for Student Affairs