'Tis the season to give back at Mercyhurst University. Dozens of children from local social service agencies will visit the Carolyn Herrmann Student Union from 3-6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14, for “Miracle on 38th Street,” a volunteer-run afternoon of Christmas cheer.
Formerly called “Christmas on Campus,” the event is a collaborative effort sponsored by the Campus Involvement Center, Campus Ministry, the Office of Service Learning, the Marion Shane Multicultural Center and volunteers from student clubs and organizations. Parkhurst Dining Services, the university’s food service provider, is donating milk and cookies.
Preston Reilly, activities and spirit coordinator, said students look forward to volunteering for the event every year.
“Getting involved with an event like ‘Miracle on 38th Street’ can serve as a gateway for a student to want to participate in other service projects or volunteer organizations we offer on campus,” he said. “It reinforces the service component of the university’s mercy mission.”
Nearly 50 children from the House of Mercy, Martin Luther King Center, John F. Kennedy Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Erie are expected to attend. The young visitors range in age from 4 to 10 and will each be partnered with a Mercyhurst student “buddy” to lead them through the afternoon’s festivities.
Highlights include Christmas caroling, holiday dancing, Christmas tree lighting, crafts and a visit from Santa. Retired English professor Barry McAndrew will return to read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Mercyhurst Student Government will donate and display small items for the children to stroll through and “shop” for their parents’ Christmas presents, and Campus Ministry has been soliciting donations for gifts to give to the children.
Christmas craft stations include mini graham cracker gingerbread houses with the Mercyhurst chapter of Habitat for Humanity and pipe cleaner candy canes with Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education.
Reilly said anyone is welcome to stop by the student union to see the afternoon’s celebration.
“This has been a fun and meaningful tradition on our campus for years,” Reilly said. “The children feel a big impact, and it really brings the Mercyhurst community together.”