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Heidelberg students spread holiday cheer through community service




Santa visits with a young child who participated in the Excelsior-Philalethean Head Start Christmas party, an annual tradition that dates back to the 1960s. (Contributed Photo)

Tiffin, Ohio — Heidelberg University students have been excited to lend a helping hand for the holidays, sharing their love and appreciation for the Tiffin community. Throughout December, numerous student organizations offered their time and talents through various service projects on campus, in Tiffin and beyond in an effort to spread a little joy during this season.

Chemistry Club’s Toys for Tots drive

Since early November, Heidelberg’s Chemistry Club has been collecting donations of toys from members of the Heidelberg community for the Toys for Tots organization for distribution through the Salvation Army.

“Christmas is my personal favorite time of year,” said Courtney Temple, a senior at Heidelberg and the president of the ACS Chemistry Club. “I am blessed to be a part of something like this, not only to give several children a magical Christmas but to also be helping the local community.”

Heidelberg’s Chemistry Club has been recognized by the American Chemical Society at their yearly conference for their service efforts and will be accepting that award again this March.

Excelsior-Philalethean Head Start Christmas

On Dec. 4, members of the Excelsior Men’s Society (EX) and Philalethean Society (Phi) hosted a Christmas party for local families in the Head Start program. The organizations provided toys, games and food for the children. This tradition began in the 1960s and has been carried on through fundraising with alumni.

On the Thursday before the event, the groups helped Santa Claus wrap presents and toys. On the day of the event, families visited Wickham Great Hall on Heidelberg’s campus to enjoy an afternoon of fun. Games, crafts and pizza were enjoyed by the kids and their families.

“Tiffin creates so many unique opportunities for Heidelberg students, it feels really special to be able to give back,” said Jocelyn Everett, a member of the Philalethean Society. “Seeing the look on every child’s face when they receive their gifts is priceless.”

“To be able to carry on a tradition that has been going on for decades is humbling and remarkable,” agreed Excelsior member Brennan Scheck. “At the end of the day, it is events like these where we can provide for our community members and see the smiling faces of children and families that makes everything we do worthwhile!”

Excelsior member Braxton Fox added, “We love just being able to give the children something to look forward to during Christmas. I know that some of these kids aren’t able to have a big Christmas, so being able to provide that to them is an awesome experience. When they walk through the doors and see Santa and the gifts, their eyes just light up and that’s why we do it!”

Alpha Phi Omega caroling

On Dec. 6, Alpha Phi Omega – Heidelberg’s service honorary – spent the evening Christmas caroling and delivering handmade cards to the homes of families living around campus.

Kailyn Kroll, president of APO, was thrilled to bring back such a heart-warming, traditional event. “This moment brings me back to my childhood when I went around my community as a Girl Scout and a volunteer,” Kroll recalled. “Some people in the community don’t get visitors for the holidays, so seeing people come to them ensures they know that someone cares. That’s the point of caroling – to show that we care for the members of our community.”

APO and several other students joined in on the evening of community celebration, some joining in unexpectedly after hearing the caroling in Heidelberg’s Beeghly Library. Paying a visit to studying students, folks who are ill, retired faculty and staff, and a group of very excited children, APO was eager to show their appreciation for Tiffin and the Heidelberg family.

Sigma Tau Nu helps prepare Kris Kringle Markt

Last weekend’s Kris Kringle Markt had the entire town buzzing with an excited hum of holiday unity filling the blustery air. A few members of Heidelberg’s Sigma Tau Nu fraternity volunteered with the setup. The current members’ connection to alumna and ’Berg instructor Donna Gross, who was one of the event organizers, led them to their fun afternoon of setting up tents and preparing Court Street for the weekend’s festivities.

“I helped out with the Kris Kringle Markt because it was a great chance to help the community,” said Tim Buckey, a member of Sigma Tau Nu. “New traditions like these mean to me that something as simple as a market can bring the community together and can hopefully be something that people look forward to every winter.”

Religious Life Community Chanukah Dinner

Heidelberg’s Religious Life hosted a community Chanukah dinner on Dec. 10. This Jewish tradition celebrates the story of the Maccabees rebuilding their temple after it was destroyed by the Romans. The story goes that there was only enough oil to light the lamps for one day, but through a miracle, it lasted for eight nights.

The university’s Jewish student population was excited about the fellowship this dinner brought. “Personally, it’s a meaningful event that campus does,” Lindsay Helmholtz shared. “Getting the personal invite each year brings me joy, as Chanukah is not as famously celebrated in comparison to Christmas. Getting to spend time around the table with others, spending time with new people, and getting to eat phenomenal food is always a plus.”

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