Making Spirits Bright in 2020

December 30, 2020

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A Recap on How USI Brought Holiday Cheer to our Families this Year!

While 2020 was challenging and stressful, it did demonstrate the resiliency of all the families in our communities across the nation and the USI team as a whole. We are happy to see that we ended the year providing as much holiday joy as possible. Here are some of the initiatives we did for our families during the holiday season.

Winter Gift Giving in Perkins, Baltimore

The USI Baltimore team, along with our partner, Commercial Group, handed out 300 winter gifts to families in our Perkins community.

Collage: USI Baltimore handing out winter gifts

Toys for Tots in San Juan, Puerto Rico

USI Community Service Liaisons in San Juan, Puerto Rico partnered with Fundación Suenos Inolvidables and the United States Marines Corps Toys for Tots program to hand out free gifts to families at Bayshore Villas and Renaissance Square neighborhoods. Nearly 100 children ages 0-10 years old received toys, puzzles, and games.

“The children had a great time (I got a lot of text messages from the parents telling me the kids were really happy with their toys), and it was an opportunity for parents and us to see a smile on the children faces amidst the difficult times.” – Iliali, USI Community Service Liaison

Collage: USI Puerto Rico Handing Out Toys for Tots gifts

Many of our Sites Participated in Toys For Tots this Year too

Families in Heritage Park in Minneapolis, Northpark at Scott Carver in Miami, and our Northside Pittsburgh communities all received free gifts for their children this year thanks to the work of USI and our partners!

Collage: USI Pittsburg staff preparing toys for children

Some of our staff preparing toys for families

Free Family Holiday Photos for Families in Tulsa

The USI Tulsa team decided to bring COVID Safe Holiday photos to our families both on-site and those relocated, to capture memories and spread some holiday cheer. Families were able to capture their loved ones, enjoy holiday music and snacks, and enter a raffle for prizes.

Collage: Holiday Photos of our Tulsa Families

The Spirit of Giving Lasted the Entire Holiday Season and Beyond in Winston-Salem

Our USI Winston-Salem team participated in many gift-giving events this December. Partnering with the Winston-Salem Housing Authority (HAWS), USI was able to deliver over 861 toys to 287 children of the Cleveland Avenue Homes neighborhood. Plus, seven USI program participants won a raffle for gift cards donated by HAWS staff, and seven USI youth won a bicycle.

A Gift Mart was also created for 15 families of Cleveland Avenue Homes this year, with new and like-new toys and gifts being available for those families to shop in a store-like setting at greatly reduced prices.

And lastly, an unlikely holiday gift was presented to Cleveland Avenue Homes youth this year. USI partnered with educational organization Crosby Scholars’ to host a FAFSA workshop for high school seniors and adults 18+ who plan to attend college in fall 2021. The workshop provided tips and tools for college as well as FAFSA application assistance. A wonderful gift for students preparing for enrollment next year.

Winston-Salem residents participating in FAFSA Day workshop 2020

Residents in Winston-Salem participating in our FAFSA workshop

USI Sites all over the Nation Celebrated the Holidays this Year

In our New Orleans neighborhoods, USI and partners hosted holiday parties, gave away stockings to children, and gave away $100 giftcards to families!

In our Near Northside neighborhood in St. Louis, we raffled off Christmas Baskets for families.

And the USI Columbus team partnered with minority-owned small businesses in the local area to create holiday giftbags and baskets to hand out to neighbors in Near Eastside.

USI also Felt the Cheer with an Internal Virtual Celebration

With our many faces all sharing the holiday cheer on our Zoom meeting, the USI staff got to play games, participate in break-out sessions, and celebrate all the success we’ve had this year in our neighborhoods.

However, our work is never over, and we are feeling refreshed and even more excited to enabling all families to be Stable and Thriving!

Happy Holidays from USI!

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