Student government gives to needy children for the holidays

The Florida A&M University Student Government Association is working to spread holiday cheer in the Tallahassee community and beyond. SGA is engaged in several community service projects that are designed to help needy children and families.

The Christmas Angel Tree Project is Secretary of Community Affairs Lakia Scott’s initiative. Scott said the Walker Ford Community Center and the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend submitted the names and wish lists of local children.

SGA members are being asked to adopt an “angel” and buy something from his or her list. The donors will be able to deliver the gifts and interact with the recipients at a party.

“On Dec. 12, there will be a big party at Walker Ford,” Scott said. “We’ll have a DJ, take pictures of the kids opening the gifts, and dinner will be provided.”

Shica D’Angelo, the vice president of operations at Walker Ford Community Center, spoke of a former angel program the center had six or seven years ago. She said she fondly remembers the party they had for the children then.

“Little girls were getting furry coats, and little boys were getting remote-controlled cars,” she said. “Some of these kids will never see stuff like that.”

She explained that the appreciation the kids show for the gifts they receive is what makes her smile.

“Kids have a way of being so happy and so thankful,” D’Angelo said with a laugh. “You can give them the smallest thing and they’ll just be tickled pink.”

D’Angelo said the Christmas Angel Tree Project with FAMU developed from the Thanksgiving project SGA did with the center.

“I’ve been at Walker Ford for 17 years,” D’Angelo said. “I’ve never seen a group come through here like they did. It was absolutely amazing.”

Student Body Vice President Monique Gillum said the SGA Thanksgiving project D’Angelo referred to was called Project 119. SGA planned to donate 119 dinner baskets, one basket for every year FAMU has existed, to Tallahassee families. But the baskets received were more than anticipated.

“We ended up getting 150 baskets, so half were given at Thanksgiving and the other half will be given at Christmas,” Gillum said.

For the Angel Tree Project, D’Angelo made laminated tags with the kids’ names, clothing sizes and three gifts they want for Christmas. The age groups range from toddlers to teenagers.

“One of the exciting things about it is it’s for all ages – not just small kids,” D’Angelo said. “Our teens are usually overlooked.”

D’Angelo said she was impressed by the wish lists she saw because some students wanted educational and clothing items instead of toys.

“One kid touched my heart,” D’Angelo said. “He just wanted socks and underwear. It was actually on his wish list.”

Although SGA has been a big help to the Walker Ford Community Center, D’Angelo mentioned that the center could still use a bit more help.

“We are in dire need of two things right now at the center,” she said. “We need help with homework and help with the dance team. We have dancers that are dying to dance, but we don’t have anyone to help with the choreography.”

D’Angelo said the students at the center also need help with “chemistry, math and (a) little bit of science.”

SGA is also reaching out beyond the Tallahassee community. In a separate project called “Christmas for Katrina,” Gillum said anyone who is interested can come on a trip to deliver gifts to kids in New Orleans.

“Half of us will be going to the Ninth Ward, and the other half will go to an area called Treme,” Gillum explained.

Gillum said she thinks it will be a fulfilling service project that will let people know that SGA is about more than just the campus.