Student-led Christmas party

Creative student-led Christmas party blesses community

North Central University student organizations joined forces in December to orchestrate a unique fundraiser and Christmas celebration for the NCU community. The result was an amazingly fun, family-friendly night of cheer, plus $1,000+ raised toward the purchase of gifts and clothing for residents of Augustana Care, NCU’s next-door neighbor.

According to junior Jonathan Thomas, leader of the student ministry organization Render, the student leaders decided to name the initiative “Christmish,” because it was sort of a Christmas party, but definitely more than that.

Putting on an event at such a busy time of year was a big task, but student leader Sydney Burroughs, also a junior, said the real learning curve was the fundraiser. “Figuring out how to fund-raise was challenging!” Burroughs said.

The students researched multiple fundraising options—raffles, donations, offerings—and decided to do a combination. For several days during the last week of classes, volunteers greeted students as they exited chapel to accept (and encourage) donations. The group also used an online method for donating so students could share the link with family and friends via their social media networks, and people were able to make donations at the big Christmish celebration on Dec. 8.

A party for all ages

Boredom was not an option for anyone who attended the student-sponsored Christmish party after the last day of fall semester classes. Some of the activities offered throughout the night included:

  • A student variety show
  • Photos with a live reindeer
  • A movie on the big screen
  • Jazz on the Anderson Chapel stage
  • A reading of the Christmas story by Karen Hagan
  • Lots and lots of food

Students pounded some pavement to get generous food donations from places such as Chick Fil A (Bloomington), Hy Vee and Market Grille (Brooklyn Park), Chipotle (Maple Grove), and Raising Cane’s (Minneapolis). “We had 400 sandwiches and 1,500 items donated for the event,” Thomas said.

Nearly 300 students, faculty, and staff members participated throughout the evening.

Celebration, fundraising, and learning

The students involved in planning would like to pursue this initiative again next year. “We’re writing an event debrief to capitalize on what we did right and to learn from our mistakes,” Thomas noted.

Both Thomas and Burroughs agreed that they would hold the event a little earlier in the month, rather than the week before finals. But they’re also in agreement that important goals were met. “One of the goals we had for the Christmish party was to bring unity throughout campus through the student organizations and student body,” Thomas said. “The party definitely accomplished that.”

Reindeer games—and prayers

For Burroughs, getting a reindeer on campus was a big triumph. “I was the reindeer dreamer,” she said; “I had to see it happen!”

It took some hunting to find a reindeer who could deliver within their budget, but eventually Burroughs met with success—and a bonus. The man who brought the reindeer to campus not only stayed outside and patiently posed the reindeer for photos, but he also started the evening by walking the campus and praying for NCU before the event began.

This week, student leaders will be shopping and delivering gifts to Augustana residents who don’t have families nearby at Christmas, as well as clothes for the donation closet that helps provide for residents who arrive without an adequate wardrobe.

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