Students Wrap Up Some Yule Cheer

EMU students wrap clothing items and toys (L. to r.): Geoff Ens, Jen Erb, Alex Brodt, Erika Detweiler, Kristi Wenger, Lisa Berry, Jennifer Ruth, Felicia Wideman and Jason Gerig wrap clothing items and toys to be distributed to children at Harrisonburg-Rockingham Department of Social Services annual Christmas party on Dec. 9.
Photo by Jim Bishop

Christmas will be a bit more special for some 40 needy area children, thanks to the efforts of a group of Eastern Mennonite University Students.

The EMU community responded to an annual appeal from the social work and applied sociology department with more than $1,500 in contributions, about $300 more than last year. Around 15 students, mostly social work majors, purchased clothing and toys from local retail outlets and wrapped the gifts.

Student organizers worked from names and “wish lists” of children sponsored for special services by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Department of Social Services. The group hoped to raise $1,200 this year. When that goal was surpassed, students were able to include 15 additional gifts to fulfill a request that came in later from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.

Erika Detweiler (l.) and Kristi Wenger wrap and label presentsErika Detweiler (l.) and Kristi Wenger wrap and label presents that will be delivered to Harrisonburg-Rockingham Department of Social Services and to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Harrisonburg.
Photo by Jim Bishop

According to Gretchen H. Maust, EMU’s social work and sociology department office coordinator who manages the project, “People across campus actually began asking about the project before fliers were ready to send out.

“Most sociology and social work majors are involved with human service agencies as part of class requirements,” Maust noted, adding: “This service project offers a tangible way for students to help meet the needs they learn about in class and makes the Christmas holidays happier and less stressful for a number of local families.”

“I’m pleased with the response from fellow students to this project,” said EMU senior Jason Gerig of Albany, Ore., who helped organize this year’s effort under the auspices of the student organization, Social Work is People (SWIP).

“I was astounded that we were able to raise the amount of money we did,” added Alex Brodt, a senior from Silver Spring, Md. “The EMU community really pulled together, and it’s great to know that we’re helping to put smiles on some kids’ faces.”

“It’s fun to work at this with fellow students,” said senior Kristi Wenger from Waynesboro, Va. “We received gift ideas with the children’s names, so so we know they’ll receive items they can use.”

The presents were delivered in time for distribution at the Social Service department’s annual “Visit With Santa” Christmas party on Dec. 9.