Ben Donnell, junior business management major, dropped a stack of red letters in front of me in the Lex. The letters were from a number of children sponsored this year for the Carl Perkins Christmas Party.
“It says ‘Thanks for the party, HO HO HO,’” read Donnell. “’Thanks for inviting us to the party. This will be the best Christmas party ever.’ I think that speaks for itself. Seeing their reactions when they open their presents and giving them a chance to feel loved and not alone.”
The Carl Perkins Christmas Party is an event that is designed to give kids who are victims of abuse the chance to experience a real Christmas and is hosted by the Student Activities Council (SAC). Groups of students around campus donate money to buy the children presents that they otherwise would not receive.
When I walked into the Bowld gym, I noticed the decorations right away: golden tinsel strung underneath the balcony of the second floor, Christmas lights strung across the railing that were too stubborn to turn on and a banner reading “Happy Birthday” with poster that had “Jesus” written in cursive underneath. As I looked closer, I began to notice the smaller things like a mistletoe hanging from the handle of the kitchen door in room 123. For a while it was quiet.
When the kids started to trickle in, grinning with anticipation, Jingle Bell Rock started to play. However, the music was eventually drown out by the excited chatter in the room.
“Someone got a whole bike!” one girl yelled in disbelief.
“I got a superman car! Look at how cool it is!” said a boy, not even attempting to hide his overwhelming happiness.
As the kids unwrapped their presents, they lifted their favorites high above their heads as if they had just won an olympic medal. They didn’t wait to begin playing with them. In fact, most of them hadn’t even finished unwrapping all of their gifts before succumbing to the compelling desire to share this experience with their friends.
As they played together and laughed, it was impossible not to notice the smiles etched onto their faces.
“He almost started crying when he got a watch,” Clark Hubbard, junior English and political science double major, said about the child that Barefoots Joe sponsored. “He was so happy, oh my gosh. It was the most precious thing.”
Photo courtesy of Morris Abernathy