Two area families are set to have nicer Christmases than they might have expected, due in large part to an OUWB student interest group that “adopted” both for the holidays.

Student interest group at OUWB helps deliver Christmas to two area families
Adopt A Family 2021 A
Daeun Jeong, M2, helps wrap presents for two area families "adopted" by an OUWB student interest group for the holidays.

Two area families are set to have nicer Christmases than they might have expected, due in large part to an OUWB student interest group that “adopted” both for the holidays.

Last weekend, the Med-Peds Interest Group delivered about $1,500 in gifts to the two separate families.

Through the Volunteers of America Adopt-A-Family program, the student interest group annually aims to make Christmas wishes come true for families in need.

“The community has a responsibility to take care of those who are less fortunate…we want to be able to give them an incredible Christmas to remember,” said Lauren Eberhardt, M2 and president of the Med-Peds Interest Group.

“Taking care of families isn’t just about taking care of people who are sick,” she added.

Med-Peds has annually participated in the VOA Adopt-A-Family campaign for at least six years.

As a student interest group, Med-Peds aims to expose students to the option of a dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics while serving as a resource for those who have already expressed interest in the field and seek further guidance.

The process to adopt families begins in early fall when the interest group’s executive board evaluates applications provided by VOA from families seeking assistance. Applications are narrowed down and a vote is taken on which family or families to adopt.

This year, Eberhardt said it was decided two families would be adopted. She said the decision over whom to adopt was not easy.

“It’s so difficult to decide on who has the greatest need,” she said. “We would love to be able to help every single family, but we have to be very selective given our limited financial resources.”

One of the families adopted this year includes a primary caregiver who is a single mother of three children and has one granddaughter. The woman had to have emergency brain surgery earlier this year, and that left her unable to work. Further, the children each continue to struggle with their own issues.

Similarly, the second family includes four young children also each struggling with issues, including a rare disease called neurofibromatosis. The family is led by a single mother who recently lost her job due to COVID-19.

“As future physicians, it really brings us back to what really matters,” said Eberhardt. “Especially in our first two years of medical school, we’re taught to think very clinically…we have to keep in mind that our patients aren’t just their diseases, they’re people.”

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On the day before the gifts were delivered to the families, OUWB students helped wrap the presents.

Vivian Chang, M2, treasurer of the Med-Peds Interest Group, helped wrap gifts and said it’s all about helping families in need.

“I wanted to help give them a really special Christmas,” she said. “I’m really happy that the OUWB community came together and helped make this awesome.”

Daeun Jeong, M2, also helped prepare presents.

“I wanted to help out because I know there is a lot of stuff to wrap and it means a lot to the families — they’re relying on us,” she said.

Keaton Schmitz, M2, vice president of the Med-Peds Interest Group, said she felt the same.

“It’s all about helping people in need during a time that is supposed to be joyful,” she said. “It’s also a great way for us to get together and support everyone.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected]

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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