Not every child in our country is lucky enough to receive the presents they ask Santa for. Often times, they do not receive presents at all. And to make matters worse, many children do not have the proper clothing to face the harsh Canadian winter that follows the holidays.
Every year, the Brock Concurrent Education Student Association (CESA) organizes helpful initiatives to help young children from the Niagara community that come from a school that is classified under the low-economic status. This year, CESA is partnering Prince of Wales Elementary School in Thorold.
“[CESA] has developed a strong and successful partnership with Prince of Wales for many years now,” said Melissa Teichgraf, President of CESA, “which we intend to continue. It has always been a mission of CESA to help out the less fortunate and we feel that there is no better time to spread some love and joy to these students to help make their holidays a little brighter.”
This year, CESA’s annual Holiday Extravaganza is happening during the day on December 8. Each year, student volunteers are paired with a child from the school. Brock students are handed cards with their buddy’s age and gender in order to buy a present within a specified price limit.
“All volunteer positions have been filled and did so very quickly,” explained Teichgraf. “Holiday Extravaganza is one of CESA’s biggest events and every year we have a great response from the community at Brock to come and spend the day with the kids at Prince of Wales.”
Brock students will spend the day at the elementary school with their ‘buddy’ doing holiday-themed activities such as crafts and sing-along songs. The school gym will be decorated and set up by CESA members and other student volunteers. With Christmas trees and reindeer ears, children are invited to share in the holiday cheer.
“Holiday Extravaganza is a very important event to the Brock community because it gives us all a chance to make a difference in children’s lives,” shared Teichgraf. “Especially for those volunteers who want to become teachers, [this opportunity] is a sneak peek at the joy they will one day bring their students.”
At the end of the day for the Holiday Extravaganza, everybody will come together to witness the children take turns opening the presents that their Brock friends have bought them.
“I am [so] excited to see the smiling faces of the children throughout the day with their Brock volunteers, as well as those of the CESA members and volunteers who will see their efforts come to life,” said Teichgraf.
Along with the Holiday Extravaganza, CESA is currently running a Mitten Drive around Brock University. Brock students are encouraged to donate lightly used or new mittens that will be given to children at the Holiday Extravaganza event.
“The Principal of Prince of Wales expressed how her students are in need of mittens,” explained Teichgraf, “especially during this time of the year and the Mitten Drive is a great way to ensure that students will be able to dress warmly at recess.”
The Mitten Drive is happening until Dec. 6 and there are various bins around campus. Teichgraf stated that “any Brock student can drop off mittens or other winter gear in our various bins around campus.” Students can identify the bins with posters and banners that are marked for the Mitten Drive.
“This is the first year that the Mitten Drive initiative has taken place and I can see it continuing for many years based on the success of it already,” said Teichgraf.
With the Holiday Extravaganza and the Mitten Drive, Brock students are offered several opportunities to help within the community during the holiday season. If students are unable to volunteer for an entire day and purchase a gift for a child, they can simply volunteer an hour or two instead, or donate a pair of mittens or other winter items to the Mitten Drive.