Making Christmas Giving a Family Affair Featured Image.

Making Christmas Giving a Family Affair

HF Students Make Christmas Giving a Family Affair

Gather around for a Christmas story that keeps on giving. But first, picture this scene…

It’s early Christmas morning 1980-something. A fresh snowfall blankets the ground outside. Inside, Christmas-tree lights splash a warm glow over carefully wrapped packages. Nearby, a young Johnny Dols fidgets, patiently waiting for his chance to open a gift.

Little did he know on this Christmas Day he was about to experience an overwhelming joy that continues to live in his heart today.

“I remember those Christmas mornings and the gifts I’d get,” says John Dols, now Holy Family’s Assistant Principal and Campus Minister. “None was more special than the year I got a Storm Shadow G.I. Joe. It was like the gift of the year–and I got it! I knew it meant something. My Mom had to do something extra special to get one of those for me.”

School Rallies Around Families

That childhood memory drives Dols’ commitment to bringing Christmas magic to Twin Cities’ kids whose families are in need. Since joining Holy Family Catholic High School 12 years ago, Dols has ignited the Sponsor-A-Family Program, which has delivered Christmas joy to more than 150-plus families.

Students hold out their hands during a prayer of blessing over the gifts during Convocation in early December. The gifts are then prepared for delivery to families.

“It helps many of our students realize some families may not have a Christmas like those you see on TV,” he says. “When you can’t provide for your family, it’s very personal and emotional. What helps is that we not only give the gifts, but also include wrapping paper, tape, and other materials so parents can wrap the gifts for their family. It gives them the chance to make it their Christmas celebration.”

Dols is quick to point out this Holy Family tradition isn’t a one-person effort. (He’s good, but he admits he isn’t Santa Claus.) It takes just about every student, teacher, and administrator to make it happen. The goal is to make sure every family’s “wish list” is filled and complete.

Classrooms adopt individual families. Large families are divided among multiple classes. One eight-member family presented this list:

  • Two baby dolls
  • A remote-control car
  • A stuffed unicorn
  • Winter jackets and boots
  • Hoodies, jeans, and tennis shoes
  • A small kitchen appliance and cookware
  • And multiple sets of bedding

Each sponsored family also receives a sizable gift card to the grocery store of their choice to help with a holiday meal.

Student-Led Tradition

Science teacher Ian Parzyck’s B-period chemistry class traditionally takes the Sponsor-A-Family tradition seriously. Parzyck turns the program over to students to get the job done. And every year, his class delivers big time.

Students in Mr. Parzyck’s Honors Chemistry class prepare gifts for their sponsored family.

Leading efforts for his class this year were 10th graders Alex P., Sydney L., and Elle B. (See photo above.) Together, they collected cash donations from classmates, and then handled the shopping duties. Alex was out on the busiest shopping weekend of the year to stretch their dollars. She consulted with Sydney and Elle via Snapchat and texts for individual gift ideas, selections and picks until their family’s wish list was complete.

“There are a lot of families that go through Christmas and don’t have the joy of receiving gifts that most Holy Family students do,” Sydney says. “Everyone in our class seems to realize that and were eager to contribute.”

Alex adds, “This service project is fun because you know you are directly providing for a particular family. They are directly impacted by what you’re doing for them.”

Holy Family’s Sponsor A Family project culminates at an all-school convocation in early December. The gifts are carefully marked and identified for distribution to each family, blessed, and loaded onto and a large box truck sent from Sponsor A Family MN.

“Other schools do different types of programs, like Toys for Tots and giving trees, but this one fits Holy Family,” Dols explains. “We’re all about the family, so why not pick a service program that makes a difference for entire families.


While the sponsor-a-program supports families outside of our community, Holy Family Catholic High School recognizes there is need within our school for families to receive financial assistance in order to provide Catholic education for their children. Please consider supporting tuition assistance with a gift to the Holy Family Annual Fund.

Click here to read our Advent Annual Fund Appeal Letter.  If you would like to make a gift to The Holy Family Annual Fund, you may download and print the form on the letter, click on the link in the postscript of the letter, or make an online donation by clicking the button below.

Make a Gift to the Holy Family Annual Fund