Spreading holiday cheer

Charity events cater to warming Charlottesville community during winter


With finals just around the corner and the holiday season fast approaching, it’s easy to get caught up in due dates, travel plans and Christmas shopping. In the midst of the madness, however, many students are also hard at work helping Charlottesville families enjoy their holiday seasons.

Circle K’s Breakfast with Santa

Last Sunday, the University’s chapter of Circle K, an internationally-recognized service organization, invited children and their families from the Charlottesville community to come to the Student Activities Building and enjoy a free breakfast with Santa, giving underprivileged kids a fun opportunity to celebrate the holiday season.

“Their situations could be as bad as not having a warm breakfast for the holiday season,” said third-year College student and club president Adela Mahmutovic. “So it’s a really great way to have the whole family just forget about the economic situation and just have fun and enjoy the season without having to worry about how much it’s going to cost and whether it will set them back.”

At the event, there were six different craft tables and five games for children to play, along with a table full of breakfast foods donated by places such as Panera, U.Va. Dining and Dunkin’ Donuts. The step team from the Boys and Girls Club also performed, and of course, Santa made a special appearance.

“They probably never get to see Santa and never get to sit on Santa’s lap and get a toy,” said second-year College student Heidi Collins, the event coordinator. “Seeing their faces and just knowing that we are really making a difference to them and giving them the true spirit of the holidays is really rewarding.”

Madison House’s Holiday Sharing Program

Throughout the fall semester, a team of student volunteers have worked through Madison House to ensure that more than 100 families in the Charlottesville area are provided with meals and presents during the holiday season. These students gather sponsors who make a financial commitment to buy at least $30 in presents for each member of the family and enough food for three meals.

Students can also solicit support from their peers at the University to supplement a sponsor’s gift.

Recruiting CIOs, fraternities, sororities, families and individuals from the Charlottesville community to promise such a hefty contribution can prove challenging, but Eleanor Muse, third-year College student and head of publicity for Madison House, said all the hard work pays off at the end on “Distribution Day.”

“All of the families come to Madison House and they bring their kids and we have cookie decorating and Santa,” she said. “We give all the packages to the families, and that is just a really cool experience to see the impact that the program has made. … It’s easy to just bury your head and think about what you are doing but this is a cool way for organizations to get involved with the Charlottesville community and stay connected especially in the holiday season.”

Published December 4, 2013 in Life


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