Chaminade University students were wrapping up gifts, sorting through boxes, and climbing onto each other’s shoulders to make sure that their school gave off the warmest welcome that it can in preparation for their special guests.
Chaminade will be holding its annual Christmas on Campus event Friday in the Vi & Paul Loo Student Center. At 6 p.m., the school invites the youth of Honolulu’s low-income communities to participate in Christmas-themed activities with the school’s students and staff. Thursday night, student volunteers banded together to prepare the facility to greet the 35 confirmed kids who will be visiting the school grounds.
“There aren’t a lot of chances where we, as students, can come together and work on something that we’re all really passionate about,” said 19-year-old sophomore Molly Alik. “After working with the others on this, my heart is overwhelmed with the thought of [the children’s’] happy faces once they see the gifts they receive.”
The Loo Center saw volunteers from different student-run organizations as well as some of the university’s own departments. A few of the school’s cultural clubs like the Samoan Club, Marianas Club, and Micronesian Club aided Campus Ministry by setting up decorations and booths for the event.
For 18-year-old freshman Sisca Aaron, the excitement is shared as she gets to show the children, who she volunteered for from September to November, where she goes to learn.
“During our Tales & Treats programs, the children were always curious about where the volunteers were from,” she said. ” … It is indeed a very special honor to have these children with us on campus to spend an evening celebrating the most wonderful time of the year.”
The Tales & Treats program is a community service conducted by a mix of Chaminade’s cultural clubs. Three times a semester, student volunteers visit the libraries of either the Mayor Wright Homes or Kuhio Park Terrace to read and play with the children of those communities. The school’s special guests will be from both locations.
Upon arrival, the children will be met with banners covered with holiday greetings in their native languages and gifts to take back home once the night is over. One of the more anticipated slots in the night’s schedule is the Christmas games that volunteers bring to the party. Micronesian Club adviser Russell Thoulag, who participated in two of the last three Christmas on Campuses, found the highlight of these nights to be witnessing the kids and volunteers play together.
“Kids are already excited about Christmas,” he said. “So it’s just fun seeing them on campus and lighting up when they see the decorations and all the fun activities.”
The children from the Mayor Wright Homes and Kuhio Park Terrace are expected to arrive by 6 p.m. A crowd of Chaminade students and staff plan to stand in front of Ching Hall to welcome at the kids once they are dropped off at the bottom of the stairs.
“I think it’s important for the Chaminade community to open its doors and welcome more people from the outside in,” Thoulag said. “It’s also good for the students to serve and be reminded what this whole season is about.”