Union is partnering with the Carl Perkins Center of Jackson, Tennessee this Thursday, Dec. 1 to provide joy and hope to kids this Christmas through an event called the Carl Perkins Christmas Party.
The Carl Perkins Center is a non-profit organization based in Tennessee that works to prevent child abuse and to care for children who have been sexually abused. Some of the services that the Carl Perkins Center provides include trauma therapy, counseling and rehabilitation for abusive family members, hot line services, caregiver programs and victim advocacy.
The Carl Perkins Christmas Party, hosted by Student Activities Council, will be held at Union on Thursday from 4p.m.-6:30p.m. in the Bowld Gym and in two adjacent rooms. The children will first eat a meal in Brewer Dining Hall and hear the Gospel presented through the Christmas story. They then will transition to the Bowld Gym, where they will get to open Christmas presents, meet Santa Claus, make crafts and eat snacks.
Garyn McIntyre, senior French major and member of SAC, is one of the students hosting the event.
“Due to their demographics and their home life, [these kids] may not get a Christmas besides the one that we provide for them, so we want to have a party for them to just make them feel loved on,” McIntrye said. “It’s really about the bonding between the college students and those kids and just having so many adult figures in their life supporting them and loving them just for at least that moment.”
Union students have the opportunity to sponsor children. However, McIntyre says that it is more of a group effort than an individual effort.
Each campus organization is encouraged to sponsor a child and buy gifts on his or her wish list. The minimum spending for each child is $70. Students who want to get involved are encouraged to contact the head or the president of the organizations that they are in and convince them to sponsor a child. Life Groups are also encouraged to sponsor kids.
Students also have the opportunity to meet their child and volunteer at the Christmas party.
“It is a very worthwhile investment of your time and investment of your organization’s money,” McIntyre said. “It is so rewarding for the kids and it is so rewarding for yourself. It’s just the Christmas spirit. That’s what you’re supposed to be doing: giving back to others and these kids really need it.”
Alex Russell, sophomore digital media communications major and member of SAC, is also hosting the event.
“Find a group of people who would really want to commit to doing it,” Russell said. “Definitely don’t take it on [as] one person. If a person wants to do it and not an organization, grab four or five friends to split up the money and find gifts. That would be a really good chance for them to spend time together doing something really meaningful for a child.”
Like McIntyre, Russell emphasizes the value of students getting involved in an event like Carl Perkins Christmas.
“The night of [the Christmas party], they’ll get a chance to meet that child and just see the impact and the presence of a person that cares for them and the presence of someone who’s willing to buy them a gift for Christmas,” Russell said. “The kids that are a part of this program don’t have a person in their life that’s going to give that to them.”
More information about the Carl Perkins Center can be found on the center’s website, carlperkinscenter.org.