With the holiday and giving spirit in full swing, many students at Florida A&M University want to give back to the local community in various ways. Whether volunteering at a shelter or hosting a drive for the campus to participate in, students are on the rise to create some extra holiday cheer for those in need. Student leaders Erin Holloway, Kayla Roberts, Kelis Mathis and Amber Whitt have come together to organize a heartwarming holiday drive, to give back to their community and make a meaningful impact.
The students’ Sleighing Santa’s Sleigh Christmas Drive began Dec. 4 with a goal to embrace the spirit of giving to the City Walk Urban Mission. Their efforts include collecting toys, books and clothes for children in need this holiday season. Some suggested donation items include, coloring books, children’s toy dolls, play kits, and crayons. Donation boxes are located in Coleman Library for anyone to drop off gifts.
Amber Whitt, a second-year pre-nursing student and holiday drive host, says her personal experiences fueled her to collaborate with friends to create this holiday initiative.
“Growing up, I had friends who didn’t have the luxury of having a joyful holiday, because some of them weren’t fortunate enough to have gifts. So, my parents and I would come together personally and gift them necessities to make the time as joyful as possible, no matter the circumstance,” Whitt said.
In doing this, Whitt also hopes to have a significant impact on children in the community and relieve some burden off of parents trying to make the best of their situations. Whitt has confidence in their work and the mark they will leave on others.
“I want this to let children be children and not have to think or worry about the holidays. I also hope this allows parents to let their hair down and accept any available help,” Whitt said. “From my own experiences, I know this helps parents not feel as stressed and guilty for not being able to provide gifts or clothing for their children.”
Kelis Mathis, a second-year psychology student and another holiday drive host, shared her “why” behind the holiday drive.
“I wanted to host a holiday drive for kids that grew up in single-parent homes, knowing that some mothers and fathers can’t afford to get their children gifts all by themselves,” Mathis said.
According to salvationarmy.usa.org, more than 1 million children in the United States will go without Christmas gifts. The initiative, driven by compassion and a sense of community responsibility, has garnered widespread support. Countless donations have been made, allowing some children in that number to be gifted this year.
The student-led holiday drive is a testament to the positive change that can be achieved when young minds come together with a shared goal. Through their collective efforts, the students are not only spreading joy but sowing the seeds for a more compassionate and connected school community. Donations in Coleman Library will end on Dec. 12, but additional drop-offs and monetary donations will be accepted by contacting @amberceniya on Instagram.