Every December the Mt. Pleasant Community Church hosts a Christmas party for local children. As part of the church’s outreach to the community, they partner with a ministry called Kids Hope USA that was created to help support children in the public schools. Following interview and training, mentors are partnered with one child and together they work on academic tasks as well as relationship building and having fun together. Each partnership is backed by a prayer partner who regularly prays for the mentor and mentee. As an added bonus to this awesome ministry, Community Church plans five parties throughout the year that bring mentors and mentees together for fun outside of the school day. I had the opportunity to get involved with one of the five and serve as a volunteer at the event.
I heard about this opportunity through an organization I have been active with for two years called Association of Recreation and Event Professionals (AREP). One of the professors in our department is a member of the church and plans the Christmas party every year. She reached out to the president of AREP requesting student volunteers. I immediately put the event in my calendar and sent my RSVP to the professor. Back home in Battle Creek I was super involved with my church’s children’s ministry and I’ve always had a love for children AND Christmastime. There was no way I was missing out on this wonderful event.
The party consisted of games, snacks, crafts, an interactive nativity skit (w/ LIVE donkeys), and fun giveaways. The event was entirely free of charge to the children and their mentors which would not have been possible without the generous donations from local and statewide individuals and businesses. My responsibilities at the event were food preparation and craft control. The other student volunteers and I prepared food for over 50 children and their mentors. We even arranged boxes full of Christmas cookies for each child to take home to their families. I loved working on Christmas and winter themed crafts with the kids and seeing how creatively their minds work. Being a college student and living on campus 24/7 I rarely get the opportunity to interact with kids. There will be those random occurrences when my friends and I will be walking through campus and hear a squeaky, high pitched yell that impulsively turns our heads and ask each other “is there a kid somewhere?!” Spending time with kids is something I absolutely love to do in my free time and I really enjoyed spending time with them at the party.
Although I was merely a “volunteer” at this event I didn’t feel like it was a chore I had to check off my to-do list or that it was something I needed to do to fulfill volunteer hours. Serving people is my passion, it’s who I am. It’s the reason why I chose to pursue the event management industry because I believe meaningful events can improve the quality of life of others. The Kids Hope Christmas Party was truly a meaningful event that helped change lives and I was glad I could be a part of it.