Barbara A. Harmon
Volunteer State Community College’s annual Christmas for the Kids and other local charities give everyone the opportunity to help those in need.
Lori Miller, Secretary of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, said that Vol State has sponsored this event for at least 10 years.
The response has varied every year, but in 2011 they had the most applicants (116 children), she said.
“The Student Government Association (SGA) pays for the reception type dinner that they have that goes on, and they usually put $500 toward that,” said Miller.
She said that SLDI also keeps a budget for this event.
“We have Books are Fun, and right now we have the thing that’s going on (Jewelry is Fun),” said Miller.
“We have a week of each one in the fall and the spring, so that’s 10 percent of those proceeds going back to Christmas for the Kids,” said Miller.
She said those proceeds will then help fund any kid that is not adopted out and help pay for decorations and games.
“What I mean by adopted out is, we will have a little paper ornament that will have if the child is a boy or girl, their age, their sizes, and things they may need or want,” said Miller.
“Those are put on the tree, and then we have Vol State community people that come out the Monday before Thanksgiving, and they are able to pick those up to sign the kids out,” said Miller.
Occasionally, people from the surrounding community want to help, but it is mostly from within the Vol State community; they are eager to help out their own, she said.
“Sometimes we will have clubs that will say, us as a club are going to sponsor a child,” said Miller.
“My goal is by the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, there will be no more ornaments on the tree.
“One year we had people fighting for the last four,” said Miller.
She said that last year the 30-something ornaments were gone by the first day.
“As of right now we only have about 25 turned in for this year,” said Miller.
The children usually open their presents at the dinner, unless their parents request otherwise, she said.
“Some of the kids, you see them, and their eyes light up over the littlest things,” said Miller.
If the parents know that their child will not have any presents on Christmas, they can let her know, so their child will be given a baggie to open that night instead, she said.
“Then, mom [or dad] can go ahead and take the other stuff out to the car,” said Miller.
When Miller was a student at Vol State, Christmas for the Kids enabled her children to have gifts, she said.
“Christmas is about giving, but it’s not about how much your kids get; but literally they would have had nothing, when I was a student,” said Miller.
“Because I was a single mom, I was not working and I was in school full-time,” said Miller.
She said she can relate to these students and that is probably why she gets so involved with this event.
“It’s like I’ve come full circle,” said Miller.
“The Employee Relations Food Drive benefits the families from the Christmas for the Kids program, run by the Vol State Student Government Association each year,” according to Kate Walker, Office Coordinator of Information Technology.
According to her, there are donation boxes around campus that Employee Relations would like people to contribute non-perishable food items (excluding glass containers) and toiletries in.
“Each family that is approved and would like the food boxes will get them [at the event],” according to Walker.
“This event has been held for the last several years and will continue as long as the Employee Relations Committee votes to keep it going.
“For the last two years, we have been able to supply two overflowing boxes of food to each family,” according to Walker.
Walker thinks Vol State has always been a very contributing campus, according to her.
“I believe that anything we can do to make this campus a more amazing place to work is worth it,” according to Walker.
“Although food donations are wonderful, please realize that goods are not the only thing you can donate.
“Your time is just as valuable,” according to Walker.
Nelson Moore, former student of Vol State and former SGA President that will be playing Santa at Christmas for the Kids, said that he enjoys participating in this event because he knows what it is like to go without.
“I never had a Christmas when I was a kid” said Moore. “My dad didn’t believe in Christmas, and we just didn’t have Christmas.”
“Other people gave us stuff, every once in a while, but we didn’t have Christmas like other people,” he said.
Moore said he has been Santa at this event before, and the children usually ask for electronics (laptops or video games), but that the presents they open that night always seem to please the children when they open them.
“It seems, no matter what they get, they are really happy about it and excited—no matter how big or small it is,” said Moore.
He said he would like to encourage students and others to participate in this event.
“They would found out that they would get more joy than the kids,” said Moore.
“Donate all they can and participate if they can; come see it and help out.
“And remember one thing,” said Moore, “HOHOHO.”
According to Allison Meyers, Vice President of SGA, “the event is beneficial for VSCC students because playing the role of full-time student and parent often comes with financial struggles, and every little bit helps.”
“Ornaments will be placed on the Christmas tree in the Mary Nichols tiled dining room, and I encourage Volunteer State students, clubs, faculty, and staff to adopt a child,” according to Meyers.
There are many organizations and charitable events that students and faculty can participate in, especially during this time of year.
Hendersonville Medical Center is a local hospital that sponsors such events.
Louise Collins, Assistant Director of Cardiopulmonary Services at HMC, said “the hospital is a sponsor for the United Way, Relay for Life (American cancer), Light the Night (Leukemia), [and the] American Heart Association.”
“At Christmas we do a Coat Drive for the United Way, Christmas for Kids, we have a choice to buy tickets to a concert (usually at Bridge Stone) and the money goes for toys,” according to Collins.
According to her, a variety of staff members from the different departments donate their time to help with these events.
“Our Christmas Angel tree will be for families from our hospital who may be in need of help at Christmas,” according to Collins.
“Each department picks a family, which has listed sizes and a list of each child’s wish list.
“You can donate to the United Way, Samaritan House, we [also] do food drives and collect can goods,” according to Collins.