By Alli Hill
The sound of squeals and laughter filled the Bowld Student Commons Dec. 2 during the Student Activities Council’s largest Carl Perkins Christmas Party in Union’s history.
The Carl Perkins Center in Jackson provides protection for children the Department of Human Services suspects are in abusive situations at home. This year, 56 children from the center visited Union’s campus for a time of celebration and fun.
Ryan Linkous, sophomore biblical studies and languages major and event chair, said the event was much different than previous years.
“We had the event in the Bowld, plus we had a record number of kids with 12 more than last year,” Linkous said.
He also said the year marked the largest amount of sponsor groups, totaling 43 different groups.
Sponsor groups range from large student organizations on campus to small groups of friends or roommates putting their money together to provide Christmas gifts for children in need.
“The best part about it was the amount of groups of friends sponsoring,” Linkous said.
Linkous and the SAC event committee began planning the Christmas party in late October. The planning consisted of contacting the Carl Perkins Center and finding out how many children the center needed sponsored. Their next step was to advertise the event around campus. The more sponsor groups that signed up, the more children that could enjoy the event and receive gifts they might not have otherwise.
The children arrived on campus and were paired with their sponsor groups, then had dinner in the Brewer Student Dining Hall. After dinner, they were led to the Bowld where 56 chairs with different names filled the indoor multi-purpose court. All of the presents were already around the chairs, and the children were able to open them with their sponsors and later play with them. Many of the children made Christmas ornaments and hung them on the large tree on the front stage.
Chelsea Cox, junior athletic training major and event co-chair, was responsible for decorating the multi-purpose room of the Bowld.
“We wanted it to be a ‘Winter Wonderland,’” Cox said. “Seeing how much the kids enjoyed the décor made it worth all of the work we put into it.”
The large room was covered in Christmas lights, stockings, paper snowflakes, wreaths and a wooden town square set up around the front stage. A large tree and chair took up the space on the stage, where the children were able to get their picture taken with “Santa,” who was Tony Meek, director of dining services.
After all of the gifts were opened, pictures taken and hugs given, the children boarded the buses and went back to their homes.
Linkous said he walked away from the event feeling blessed.
“We were all able to serve the kids and give joy to them, but we all received joy too,” Linkous said.