With the holiday season rolling around, the toy commercials vamp up and children begin to write their wish lists, anxiously waiting for the day when they get to open their presents. For some children in the Des Moines and Drake communities, that day won’t come this year.
Senator at Large, and sophomore marketing major, Sam Pritchard, explains how Student Senate plans to change that.
“The Holiday Wish Party is sponsored by Student Senate, and specifically the Community Outreach Committee,” he says.
The Holiday Wish Party is an annual event that Drake has hosted for the past seven years, and will be held on Dec. 4 on Pomerantz Stage. The Holiday Wish Party is an event for low-income families surrounding the Drake community, where Drake students purchase specific gifts for the children who may not otherwise receive gifts this year.
“The Wish Party has two elements,” Prichard explains. “The first is to get the gifts to the families without the kids knowing and the second is to give the kids a great holiday-fun party.”
Holiday karaoke, cookie decorating, pizza, crafts and a student Santa Clause serve as a fun distraction for the kids at the party, while student volunteers distribute the children’s new gifts to their parents.
“We will have [the event] on Pomerantz Stage, in that area, and the gifts will be put in the Pomerantz conference room, so that while the children are enjoying the party, we can get big trash bags and sneak the gifts out,” Pritchard explains. “That’s part of the fun, too, is that the children don’t know where the gifts are coming from.”
Bringing children from the surrounding community to Drake for an afternoon is a way to blur the strict lines between Drake’s campus and the surrounding Drake community. This is a big part of the Community Outreach Committee’s goal.
Pritchard explains how important it is to ‘reinforce and build those relationships.’
“Any time that we can go out and bring families in and build those relationships one-on-one is a huge asset to not only the University, but to the Drake [community].”
There are plenty of programs at universities across the country that allow for students to donate gifts to children for the holidays, but not many schools adopt the children for the day and throw a party for them while secretly passing off the presents to their parents.
“It’s unique in a lot of ways,” Pritchard comments.
To get involved in helping to make a difference this holiday season, students and faculty can stop by the Olmsted coffee shop and pick a snowflake tag off of the snowman display. Each tag has the child’s age, gender and gift type. Then, students must register their snowflake in the Student Life Center.
“Student Senate put in about five-hundred dollars of money in case students don’t buy all of these gifts, but as it looks like right now, I don’t anticipate we’ll need to use any of that money,” Pritchard explains.
Another way for students to get involved, although the committee encourages students to make gift donations, is to be one of the twenty to thirty volunteers at the actual event. To volunteer, contact Pritchard at firstname.lastname@example.org.