Courtesy photo: UNL Students with Children Facebook page

Holly Pridie understands the struggles of being a student parent during the holidays, despite not being one herself.

”I grew up [during the time] where my dad went back to school to get a degree,” the UNL child, youth and family studies major said. “I will attest that it’s hard for parents to have to worry about getting their kids the right Christmas presents.”

The Students with Children at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, an organization that aims to provide community and resources for student parents, is hosting its second annual Holidays For Little Huskers gift drive to help students who may be in situations like Pridie’s dad. 

Pridie, who serves as the organization’s coordinator, said children typically have expectations of what they want for Christmas and it can be hard for student parents to meet those expectations.

”School, in it of itself, is expensive,” she said. “We try to help them out as best we can [by] getting them gifts that maybe they wouldn’t be able to afford themselves.”

Students, faculty, staff, and the Lincoln community can contribute to the gift drive by sponsoring a family or child or dropping off money and gifts at the UNL Women’s Center, located on the third floor of the Nebraska Union.

Pridie said the organization adopted the drive from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Last year, the Lincoln community donated enough gifts to help 10 families.

Pridie said while the drive is centered around getting gifts for children, the organization strives to make sure the parents also receive gifts.

“What we found last year is that the parents didn’t necessarily ask for stuff for themselves,” she said. “We wanted to make sure they were included.”

 The parents can pick up their gifts and wrapping paper provided by Students With Children at a holiday party hosted by the organization on Dec. 14 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the UNL Women’s Center.

“We try to go that extra mile to show that we care about them individually as opposed to how we can meet their needs,” she said. “It gives them some time out of their day to hang out with their kids, have fun and not worry about school or finals.”

Alexis Saltzman, president of Students With Children, has three children of her own. She said there are several challenges she faces as a student parent, like scheduling limitations and finding affordable, accessible childcare.

“Balancing school and work with running a household – it isn’t possible to do all three well, so one ends up getting less time than it needs and the consequences are different for each,” Saltzman, senior computer science major, said in an email. “The constant stress can cause some serious damage to your mental and physical health.” 

Saltzman said she feels it’s important to have a welcoming and inclusive environment for all UNL students and that this holiday gift drive can help accomplish that.

“Student parents are particularly vulnerable to issues like financial insecurity and not feeling like they belong here, not having a community – these kinds of issues increase the likelihood that they will not complete their degree,” she said. “I feel that this is a good opportunity for people at UNL to recognize this subsection of students who are trying to give their families a better life, and lifting them up a little with a special treat.”

I am a senior journalism major from Elkhorn, NE with minors in global studies and political science.