By Katelyn Marshall
The Student Government Association at Volunteer State Community College, with the assistance of other student organizations annually sponsors an event known as Christmas for the Kids, to benefit the children of Vol State students, whose families are experiencing significant financial hardship going into the holiday season.
Gifts for the children will be sponsored by campus organizations and individuals within the Vol State community, up to $50 per child.
“Christmas for Kids started by the Student Government [Association],” said Tabitha Sherrell, who coordinates student activities and has been at Vol State for almost 8 years. Sherrell said that she is currently working on writing a dissertation to earn her doctorate degree in education. “It was started because SGA wanted to give back to the student body. So, this way of giving back is if you are a Vol State student and you have children, then you can apply for Christmas for the Kids.”
Sherrell explained in more detail about how Christmas for the Kids operates. “It’s basically, like if you go to any other store in the community and they have an angel tree, it’s the same concept.”
She added that a parent who is a Vol State student will come in and fill out an application for their child, called a Santa Survey. The Santa Survey will tell about what the kids needs or want, the child’s size and age.
The Christmas for the Kids committee, which is a committee of currently enrolled students in student government, will create ornaments, which is a paper ornament.
Sherrell said that this year there will be multiple ornaments from Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Santa, and an Elf hat. On the back of that ornament will be information that pertains to the child, which will not be their name.
“It will be a number,” Sherrell said. “Only us and the Office of Engagement and Support will know who the child is. But it will be a number and it will say how old the child is, if it’s a boy or a girl, and then it will list all the stuff on that Santa Survey [such as] their clothing size, things that they need, and things that they would like to get.”
After that, SGA will put up a Christmas tree and hang the ornaments up in the tiled dining room.
“Then my office sends out a push or an advertisement to ask the Vol State community, but it really can be anyone,” Sherrell added. “For example, my mom lives two hours away from here, but she knows that we do Christmas for the Kids every year, so I always grab two ornaments off the tree. I have one and she has one and we shop on black Friday for whatever children we selected. It could be anybody that adopts an ornament off the tree.”
The deadline for the application was Monday, November 11. “It does have to be a har deadline. It’s a firm deadline because once we have the applications in, we have to get to work on those ornaments. There are multiple deadlines in a row,” Sherrell explained. November 15 was the deadline for the committee to have all ornaments up on the tree. “We learned that it’s a whole lot easier if those ornaments are up on the tree and available for the community to take before Thanksgiving. A lot of people shop on black Friday or
on Thanksgiving, so having this ornament available to them before Thanksgiving really helped.”
Specific items needed, based on the survey, according to Sherrell, include winter coats, scarf, gloves, hats, winter boots, socks, underwear, pants, and shirts.
According to Sherrell, there is not a limit to how many items someone can purchase, however, it is asked of people who take an ornament off the tree to spend at least $50 on that child, although it could be more than that minimum price.
For those who take an ornament, the gifts are due back to the Office of Student Engagement and Support by Wednesday, Dec. 4. Also, it is asked by the Office of Student Engagement that the gifts are not wrapped but put in a gift bag instead.
“There is a Christmas party on December 6,” Sherrell added. “This year, that Christmas party is going to be open to all Vol State students to bring their children, not just those who are in the Christmas for the Kids program. Essentially, anyone who applied for the Christmas for the Kids program, they will be able to pick up their gifts from this office, Wood 215, the week of finals.”
Sherrell explained that they are trying to make it more convenient for parents. If they come to the Christmas party with their kids, Sherrell said that they found out that their children see the gifts right then and want to open their gifts.
“SGA, this year, said, ‘what if we don’t do that? What if we just offer a fun party for anybody to come to, and then if you’re someone who is a recipient of a Christmas for Kids gift. You can come right your last final, when your kids are not with you, you can
pick up the gifts, and hide it if you want, and it really does work for Christmas day,” Sherrell said.
In the past, Christmas for the Kids has been very successful according to Sherrell. “It’s honestly always successful. In the 8 years that I have been here, we’ve never seen zero. The number has been between 50 and, honestly, this year we have 125 children that will go under the tree.”
According to Sherrell, this is the largest number that she has seen. She also said that it is usually between 50 and 80 and that there was one year where there may have been 40 children.
Sherrell said her platform quote to the world was, “In a nutshell, be kind to one another. Be kind in what you do. This also goes along with Christmas for the Kids. Think about, it’s 125 kids, that are going to have a present under the tree that they may not have if SGA hadn’t done this program, so I would say be kind.”