We hear assembly announcements for the collections of coats and for the revealing of Santa and Mrs. Claus – Austin Clark and Susan Collins! We know about donating money to your advisor, or the shopping for a child’s specific Christmas presents. We see the pajamas worn to school and the transformation of the dining hall into the North Pole. But what is the Community Service Holiday Party really?
The Community Service Holiday Party is the celebration of all of the scholars’ hard work over the course of the entire school year. Each scholar–-child-–at the party earns an invitation by putting in time and effort into learning during tutoring hours, which takes place outside of school. In exchange for their hard work, the community service students organize a Christmas party where the children receive presents of their choosing, which they might not get otherwise receive. Each scholar has an ornament with their name on it, a stocking with their picture, a letter from an elf who has watched them all year, and a warm coat. At the party, the kids get a free meal, courtesy of Baylor’s awesome dining hall staff, and participate in fun games and create cute crafts, led by Baylor’s boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams. The kids get to enjoy Christmas with their friends and tutors because they work hard, and it encourages them to work hard the following year. The party reflects the love each of the tutors and leaders of the Community Service program has for the scholars; it gives us an opportunity to show them we value and cherish them. Our presents grant these children gifts that are far beyond tangible.
So how do we make all of this happen? First, we recruit some hard-working people to help and organize the event. Without the help of people donating coats, advisories, volunteer moms, the dining hall staff, and all of those involved in the Community Service after-school program, this party would not happen. Community service director Elin Bunch, and assistant director Joli Anderson, the decorating committee and the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Board all work together to create and set up all of the decorations in the dining hall. Bunch and Anderson hand-wrapped each of the gifts. Two late nights of the week of the party were spent setting up decorations and wrapping gifts.
For all heavily invested in the holiday party, the plans were set in motion long before the week of Dec. 6. The party leaders hold the responsibilities of the coat drive, communications and logistics, and leading the decorating committee. I coordinated the coat drive, which involved getting several schools and churches to allow me to place drop-off bins at their locations. This required me to email multiple places to ask them if they would host a coat drive, dropping off their collection bins, retrieving the bins, sorting and washing the coats, and arranging them up in the dining hall with hangers on racks. The logistics coordinator, Ellie Raughton, communicated with those within the Baylor community, specifically advisors. She also was in charge of organizing the purchase of pajamas for the children. The decorating committee leader, Carson Raughton, led the decorating of the dining hall, specifically the managing of the decorating committee and the creating and placing of decorations. Raughton, Raughton, and I worked closely with the decorating committee to design decorations for them to create. Many helped to physically set up all of the decorations in the dining hall. So many wonderful and dedicated people contribute to the success of the event.
The Community Service Holiday Party is at the very top of my list of beloved things at Baylor. We have the opportunity to gather as a community to celebrate the hard work of the children in our community service program. So many opportunities exist for anyone in the Baylor community to participate in the joy of the party. While many aspects of the event are already in place, new ideas are always welcome. A huge thank you to all who helped to put on this magical celebration!