Trevecca Nazarene University

Students host Christmas party for children of prisoners

Continuing a tradition that was begun five years ago, Trevecca students made Christmas a reality for 236 children who have a parent incarcerated. Working with Prison Fellowship and the Angel Tree Program, student leaders presented the plan to students who then chose their own "angels" and went to work to shop for those children and prepare for the annual Christmas party on campus for the children and their guardians. Taking total responsibilty for the arrangements, the students worked to make sure that the party included all the elements that children love--refreshments, games, entertainment, music, gifts, and, of course, a visit from Santa. Individual students were responsible to contact their "angels" and invite them and their guardians to the party. The party was held Saturday, December 6, at the University, with more than 400 persons attending. The children, birth to eighteen years of age, participated in carnival-type games, had dinner, listened to a concert by the University Concert Choir, sang carols, watched a live nativity scene, listened to a reading of the Christmas story, visited with Santa, and received the gifts purchased by the students. This year's group of 236 children was the largest ever for the students to host. Many of the children had attended some of the past Christmas parties that the students had hosted. According to Jeremy Pass, Associated Student Body chaplain, the students were motivated to "find a way to reach out and help." He said that many students were doing what they had always done with their families at home--work to make Christmas wonderful for someone else. He explained that this activity one aspect of the students' efforts "to make a difference in the lives of other persons by showing love and planting seeds of love." Participation in the Angel Tree Program has been such a positive experience for Trevecca students that they are expanding their involvement with Prison Fellowship and the Angel Tree Program into a new effort--a new mentoring program for children of prisoners. As part of the Starting Line Mentoring Program, each week pairs of Trevecca students will spend one hour a week with a child, visiting, taking him or her to an activity, tutoring, and doing things that will bring friendship, encouragement, affirmation, and positive modeling into that child's life. The original goal was to have fifteen students participate, but forty-five students have signed up to become mentors in the program. Trevecca is the first Christian college in Nashville to have students participate in this new program. (12/10/03) For a related article from the 12/10/03 Tennessean, go to http://www.tennessean.com/davidson/southeast/archives/03/12/43837684.shtml?Element_ID=43837684