This upcoming holiday, lots of little Blazers are getting their wishes

This year, 90 students and their families have been helped by the Little Blazer Wishes program, which supports students who are parents trying to meet their children’s holiday needs and wishes.

little.blazers.2For Stacia Wilson, a graduate student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, juggling a rigorous course load while raising her three young children has been a struggle.  

“The word stressful does not give it justice,” said the 32-year-old Georgia native. “I feel like I am on an island and the land is slowly sinking and the pieces are disappearing.”

When she got an email from UAB Off-Campus Student Services offering help for the holidays for students who have children, she thought it was a nice gesture and perhaps the promise of some T-shirts. So, she let it sit in her inbox for a few days. 

“But then, I thought, even a T-shirt could help,” said Wilson, who is the mother of a 7-, 5- and 1-year-old. “It could be a stocking stuffer.” When she followed up, however, she learned that the offer was for much more. 

Little Blazer Wishes is a program created in 2019 by the UAB Division of Student Affairs to support students who are parents and face the challenge of trying to meet their children’s holiday needs and wishes. With coordination through Off-Campus Student Services, and in partnership with the Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant coordinator, students were identified and made aware of the opportunity. Last year, 35 students and their families were supported by anonymous donors from across UAB. This year, 90 students and their families have been helped.   

“It has just been amazing,” said Meredith Kahl, director of UAB Parent and Family Services, of the community support. “It has been overwhelming the level of kindness and the generosity. Everyone responded quickly and had no hesitation.”

Kahl says donors from across UAB purchased and gift-wrapped mounds of clothing, books, bicycles, UAB swag, toys, diapers and baby wipes. Students then scheduled appointments to pick up the items and could hardly contain their gratitude.

“Thank you so much,” Wilson said. “It means a lot to us students.”

She said she was glad to have had on a mask to hide her running mascara when she picked up her children’s items. She was overwhelmed by the clothes and STEM projects her children will now be able to unwrap and enjoy on Christmas Day.

“I feel so proud to be a Blazer,” said Wilson, who is working to earn her Ph.D. in maternal child health. “I know that my university is truly there for me.” When she had felt that she was 

drowning, Wilson said this was a “pebble” that she could steady herself upon to help her focus on her education.    

To the Off-Campus Student Services and UAB Student Affairs, she said, “Thank you for taking the extra effort. I know this is not in your job description, but you made it happen for my family.”