At the end of each year, Illinois State University’s Leadership and Service office organizes a three-part Holiday Helper series in order to provide gifts for children in the Bloomington-Normal community.
The work for the project began in October, when participants “adopted” a child in need and received a list of gifts that he or she wanted for the holidays.
Now that all of the children have been adopted and their gifts have been brought in, the second part of the Holiday Helper series can take place. These are the Wrap and Pack events. According to junior communications major and Leadership and Services office employee Eric Lempa, student volunteers wrapped the donated gifts, which will soon be brought to five different organizations. Wrap and Pack began earlier this week and concluded on Wednesday evening in the Bone Student Center. Volunteers, according to Lempa, come from all over campus. This is a popular event. Often, students sign up with their friends and make an evening out of it, wrapping gifts together. Entire RSO groups sign up together as well.
The Holiday Helper events will conclude at the end of this week on Saturday, when volunteers head to the five participating local community agencies in order to throw Holiday Helper parties for the children there.
“Volunteers can be anyone,” Lempa said. “Some of them are the students who ‘adopted’ a child for the holidays, some are the Wrap and Pack volunteers, and others are students interested in community service who want to spend some time with these kids.”
The parties will take place at Boys and Girls Club, Catholic Charities, Center for Youth and Family Solutions, UNITY Community Center, and Western Avenue Community Center.
“Volunteers will spend a few hours playing games, singing songs, and doing arts and crafts with these kids, and the evening will end with the presentation of the gifts,” Lempa said.
This is the 18th year that Leadership and Service has organized its three-part Holiday Helper event. If you are interested in attending a Holiday Helper party at any of the five locations in the Bloomington-Normal area, registration is still open. Students wanting to participate may visit the Leadership and Services center, located in the Bone Student Center, or call the office at 309-438-7346. Those who are disappointed to have missed out on parts one and two of the event should look for Adopt a Child and Wrap and Pack registration dates, which will happen again next fall.