Associated Students (AS) is giving back to children of student parents this holiday season through their Holiday Angels benefit.
The Holiday Angels tree, located in the Office of Student Life, boasts 100 cards with wishes on them from the children of students in PCC’s EOP&S, CALWORKS and PASS programs.
There are three gift wishes on each card, along with the child’s first name, age and gender. All wishes are items between $10 and $25. The gift requests range from warm clothes and learning activities for younger children to makeup and video games for older children.
“It’s hard because some of those things are more than $25 so we just hope for the best,” said Student Affairs Advisor Carrie Afuso.
Students and faculty are encouraged to pick a wish off the tree and grant it.
“I had 100 names go up and they were gone within four days, which is amazing,” Afuso said. “I was just really thrilled by the campus’ response. In the past, it’s always been faculty and staff or clubs and organizations donating gifts, but this year we’ve had a lot of students from Pathways… come in and pick these up.”
Once all of the gifts arrive, the celebration begins early for members of AS.
“Everyone from AS is going to come together and spend most of the day wrapping the gifts for the event,” said AS Vice President for Student Services Dominic Ypil.
The gift giving culminates into a celebration on Friday where the gifts will be distributed. AS hosts a Holiday Angels party for the children and their families to partake in games, food, a holiday themed film and photo booth, according to Ypil.
This year, there are a few new additions to the celebration. To keep in line with the holiday theme, AS members and volunteers will dress up as angels or elves at the party. Among the new activities will be a balloon man who AS Vice President for Student Activities Lian Zhang hired for the event.
This year, the coveted role of Santa will be played by President of AS Kiely Lam. Ypil donned the iconic beard and suit last year.
“On that day, I put on the suit, grabbed a pillow, put it around my waist,” he said. “The kids liked it, they gave me letters.”
Ypil, who has been directly involved in the event for the past two years, hopes this year marks a few subtle improvements.
“The only real complaint we’ve had is over the location of the photo booth,” he said. “…We’ve moved it closer to the Piazza so people can see it and take advantage of it. We also have more vegetarian options and desserts.”
The promotion of inclusivity also extends to cultural awareness. Ypil notes that they refrain from referring to it as a Christmas celebration. Instead, they simply label it a holiday party to avoid excluding anyone.
PCC’s generosity goes beyond Holiday Angels, as there are many efforts on campus aimed at supporting fellow Lancers. Afuso notes a sociology professor who collects toiletries to give to homeless students, and another who collects backpacks for students with limited space and uncertain living situations. The Lancer Pantry also readily distributes food and hygiene supplies to all current students in need throughout the semester.
“All around campus, if you look, I think there are people doing good work,” Afuso said.
She hopes that AS’ contribution to the campus community will benefit all involved.
“We like to make sure that we focus directly on students helping students so that they can see and understand the benefit, since the person sitting right next to you might be a recipient,” she said.