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MU event gives the gift of holiday spirit

For The Miami Student

Published: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 00:12

The Miami Holiday Project is an annual event that raises funds to buy Christmas gifts for 179 foster children under court supervision in Butler and Preble Counties due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. The project hopes to raise $20,000 by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Senior Chelsea Menke has been an active participant in this project since 2010 and said it became the highlight of her first semester at Miami.

“If every student at Miami donated $1, or if 4,000 students decided to give $4 rather than buying Starbucks, we would reach our goal in no time,” she said.

The purpose of this service-event, planned by Miami University’s Classified Personnel Advisory Committee (CPAC), is to give back to the community and to help bring joy to the holidays of these children. All donations will go toward bedding, clothing, hygiene needs, special needs items for those with disabilities and items on the children’s wish lists.

Organizers purchase these gifts from Meijer, with the money from donations, and then they are delivered to Phillips Hall, where two racquetball courts become “Santa’s Workshop” as the volunteers spend four days wrapping the presents. The presents are then taken to the county agency and the guardian aids deliver them to the children.

“One of the sweetest stories I heard, but also really sad, is a story of a little girl who kept the wrapping paper from her presents in her pillowcase,” Menke said. “She had never before seen such pretty paper and couldn’t imagine throwing it away. Other kids can’t believe that these gifts are theirs; they will put the presents back in their bags as if to give them back.”

Students can help participate in the project by signing up to shop for the presents, or to wrap them. They can also donate money, or new toys, books, games and balls. Donations can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 106 Phillips Hall. All donations must be received by Wednesday, Dec. 4.

“This is the 18th year that Miami’s staff has encouraged participation to raise awareness and joy for these vulnerable young kids,” Anita Sackenheim, chair of the Miami Holiday Project, said.

Many other organizations and groups on-campus hold different fundraisers, such as bake sales or cook-offs, and all proceeds go directly to children in need.

Junior Marissa Horwitz said she thinks this service project is an amazing way to increase the community’s awareness of children in need.

“Just the thought of lighting up these kids’ faces on Christmas morning seriously makes me so happy,” she said. “I think it’d be really cool if we also had a county winter clothing drive for kids who can’t afford warm jackets, ear muffs, or gloves. I love the idea of giving back during a time of Christmas spirit.”

There is no better way, volunteers said, to spread holiday cheer than to give to others.

“This project has changed my entire perspective on Christmas,” Menke said. “Instead of thinking ‘what do I want,’ I think, ‘what do others need?’ I get to act as Santa, which is awesome.”

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