Sasha Palmer, a sophomore at Oxford College from Chicago, spent her study day on Wednesday assembling bicycles with fellow students from Volunteer Oxford and the Bonner Leaders program. The students assembled 20 bicycles that will go to needy students in Newton County. Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
OXFORD -- For more than five years, dozens of Oxford College students have spent what is supposed to be a study day for upcoming exams assembling and wrapping presents for needy children in the area.
"So many kids don't get Christmas gifts," said sophomore Amy Van Pelt, from Florida. "Everyone deserves something to put a smile on their face."
On Wednesday, nearly 40 students from Volunteer Oxford assembled 20 bicycles and wrapped nearly 150 gifts for elementary school children living in Newton County. Volunteer Oxford is supported by the Pierce Institute for Leadership and Community Engagement at the college.
"This provides a hands-on, local opportunity for students to do while they are in the midst of studying for exams," said Kim David, assistant director of Student Development for Community Service at the college. "By wrapping gifts and assembling bikes, students can take a study break and think of something other than the end-of-year stress they may be feeling but do something kind and helpful that will make a difference."
The bicycles were provided by First Presbyterian Church in Covington for children identified through the Division of Family and Children Services.
College faculty and staff also sponsored 14 children by providing gifts or money for gifts. Gifts include clothes, shoes, outerwear, underwear and special wish list items.
"This project is a way our students, staff and faculty can give back to our local community," David said. "Due to the generosity of our staff and faculty, we were able to sponsor two additional children this year than we have in the past."
Another group of Oxford College students also spent Wednesday organizing Christmas gifts for other needy children in the area.
The college's Bonner Leaders program and the sophomore class, as part of a class gift, filled shoe boxes for about 25 teenagers and preteens who live at Elks Aidmore, a private non-profit residential facility for adolescents in families in crisis in Conyers.
Each box was filled with toiletry items, books donated by Newton Reads, toys, school supplies and other items. Additional books will be donated to Newton County schools and the Washington Street Community Center.
"I just want kids to have something to open on Christmas," said sophomore Julie Dunn, from Marietta, who helped organize the collection and donation.