Campus Safety Services hosted a holiday party for local children where they gave out more than 380 gifts.
Campus Safety Services hosted its annual Children’s Holiday Party Sunday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The party hosted more than 380 children from local churches, schools and one homeless shelter at the Liacouras Center, for an afternoon of food and gifts.
“I make sure we have a gift for every child…[and] everybody is local,” said Eileen Bradley, CSS special services captain. “I want to make sure we’re including our immediate neighbors.”
The holiday festivities included performances from the Diamond Gems dance team, Ladies of Elegance step team, a Boyer College of Music and Dance hip-hop dance group, a magician and special guest appearances by Hooter and, of course, Santa Claus.
To ensure every child receives a gift, Bradley starts reaching out to local and non-local vendors, individuals and businesses as early as summer. The donations go into a fund which Bradley then uses to purchase gifts. This year, Sodexo donated all of the food, including pizza, hot dogs, candy, soda and boxes of fruit.
“Whatever gifts are left I give to the homeless shelter,” Bradley said.
“Most of us have had the luxury of receiving expensive gifts for Christmas like iPods and video game systems but in urban areas, these kids have never had the opportunity to have something they can call their own,” said Vanessa Destime, Temple Student Government director of campus life and diversity. “Receiving gifts at Christmas preserves a kid’s childhood…The world is filled with things to worry about and problems increase with age. The least we can do is preserve a kid’s childhood for the time being.”
Students help wrap these gifts the week prior to the event.
“We didn’t get much help earlier in the week but by Wednesday or Thursday we had large groups come in to help,” Destime said. “On Thursday, me and a group wrapped gifts for four and a half hours straight.”
In addition to the food and presents, 15 bicycles and two computers, donated by Temple’s Computer Recycling Center, were also raffled off at the event.
CSS started the holiday party about 25 years ago, hosting between 30 and 35 neighborhood children. The event has now grown by upwards of tenfold.
“With the growth of the university, me and my department felt it important to reach out to our neighbors and show that we care about them,” Bradley said. “As the university has been expanding, I feel like we’re a bridge to the community for the university…At the party, we have so many student volunteers [and] it’s very good for the students to interact with the children too. It shows them that these are our neighbors.”
More than 50 Temple-affiliated volunteers were involved with Sunday’s event, representing several community service and academic student organizations. Approximately 10 administrators donated their time, too.
“The event was special because of how many people were there to help put it together,” Destime said. “The kids were so excited.”
CSS is involved with a slew of community service-based activities. For Thanksgiving, it gave 80 needy, local families baskets filled with turkey, cranberries, vegetables and pies.
“A whole Thanksgiving dinner,” Bradley added.
Bradley emphasized the importance of the Children’s Holiday Party to highlight a side of CSS many people often don’t recognize.
“It’s just a wonderful event…when I see those smiling kid’s faces I feel maybe we touched them a little bit this holiday season,” Bradley said. “A lot of the police officers attended the event and it really showed that we have pride in what we do.”
“When most people think of police they think of making arrests, investigations and crime, but we have another side [to] us,” she added.
Becky Kerner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.