The sound of children filled the air in Peters Gym as excited children anxiously waited their turn to sit on Santa Claus’s lap.
The third annual Winter Wonderland was held on Dec. 4. This event was hosted by the Resident Hall Association and gave underprivileged children the opportunity to experience Christmas.
The Resident Hall Association sent applications to two local organizations in the community, Beans and Rice and Head Start, which care for low-income families. Through those applications, Radford University clubs and organizations interested in sponsoring a child were given information about what the child was interested in and what size clothes he or she wore.
“This year it has been great. Greek life and other organizations on campus have been willing to help,” said Courtney Russell, a senior and the leadership coordinator for RHA. “We have more kids this year than last year, and it is awesome that we could find a sponsor for every child.”
The event doubled in size this year with about 35 clubs and organizations participating and sponsoring 95 children.
“It is a great opportunity for the students to give back to the community that opens up their town to us,” said James Cho, president of the Inter Fraternity Council.
He also said that the event is another great opportunity for those who have childhood memories of Christmas to help the children that might not get to experience it.
At the event, members from the clubs and organizations met the child they sponsored and saw how happy they were to receive the gifts.
“I sponsored a kid, and after he opened his gifts he gave me a big hug and told me how cool I was for getting him tractors,” Russell said.
The gifts not only made the children happy, they made the parents and grandparents of the children that received the gifts happy as well.
“They absolutely loved [their presents]. They wanted superheroes and ‘Star Wars’ and got both of those,” said Dwayne Boyd, a parent of three sponsored children.
Craig Manning, another parent of two sponsored children, felt the same way as Boyd. He said the event was great because it gives the children hope that there are people in the world that care for them. Manning thinks children today are often taught to lose hope because of the bad experiences they have gone though at such a young age.
Some of the organizations set up holiday themed crafts and games for the children to do do. For example, Sigma Sigma Sigma helped the children make snowmen out of doilies and The Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Club team helped the children make snow globes out of baby food jars.
“I love giving back to the community, especially to kids that don’t get Christmas. This way they get all they want and more,” said Doug Barnes, a sophomore and a member of RHA, serving as the hall council president of Madison Hall.