It’s easy to lose track of the spirit of the season during late-night cramming for final exams.

However, the University Health Sciences Scholars Program’s community service club has made it easy to give back to the community with its “Giving Tree” initiative, benefiting students in a Detroit-area school.

As a part of the project, the organization has decorated a column outside the Couzens Residence Hall’s community center with 143 holiday light-shaped tags inscribed with information on a student from the Academy of International Studies charter school in Hamtramck, Mich. Couzens residents can take a tag off the column and purchase a present for a student.

“We thought it would be a fabulous way to get everyone in the giving spirit,” said LSA freshman Victoria Chochla, HSSP’s community service representative.

Couzens residents can continue to donate gifts through Dec. 10. Once the gift drive closes, club members will wrap presents and purchase gifts for any remaining tags before delivery to the school before winter break.

“The school is very happy that we reached out and partnered with them,” Chochla said. “It’s really nice because we have students from the University of Michigan partnered with students from a charter school in Hamtramck, so you have that student connection between older students and younger students. It’s really nice and it makes the holidays.”

LSA senior Jacqueline Franklin, head of HSSP’s community service club, said many non-HSSP Couzens residents, staff and facilities workers have also participated in the gift drive. Out of the 143 tags posted to the column, only about 40 tags remained unclaimed.

“Every day I pass by the yellow bins where the gifts are being collected, and they’re always full,” Chochla said. “We usually remove the gifts for the night so each day there is a huge amount of gifts that get turned in.”

Although this is the Giving Tree program’s first year, the club participates in outreach programs including caroling at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ypsilanti and decorating cookies at the Ronald McDonald house near Mary Markley Residence Hall. The organization is planning several other charitable events for the holiday season.

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