By Henry Eckels
Hundreds of kids from three Texas cities are coming to Baylor on Friday to have fun eating lunch, receiving gifts and meeting Santa Claus himself.
Santa’s Workshop is an annual Christmas event that gives children the opportunity to interact with the Baylor community, students and volunteers.
The event will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Friday at the McLane Student Life Center, during which the kids will eat lunch, make arts and crafts and meet Mr. Claus and Mrs. Claus.
Spring junior Megan Hurley, a member of the Santa’s Workshop volunteer committee, said the event will host hundreds of children from day cares and Head Start centers across Waco, West and Marilyn.
“At last year’s Santa’s workshop we hosted about 275 kids, and this year we’re looking at about 600 kids,” Hurley said.
Head Start is a federal program that helps kids from low-income families prepare for school by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development, according to the program’s website.
Vienna, Va., junior Peyton Starr, director of the office of community engagement and service for the Santa’s Workshop, Leadership Committee, said Santa’s Workshop has evolved as an event in Texas.
“Santa’s workshop has been an event hosted at Baylor for 21 years now, since 1992,” Starr said.
Although Santa’s Workshop petitions various businesses around Waco for assistance and funds, Starr said the vast majority of its funding comes from the Baylor community.
“We solicit business all around Waco, and even have acquired some sponsors from Walmart and Brother’s Management,” Starr said. “However, most if not all of our funds for the actual event have come from Baylor faculty and staff.”
Tuscola sophomore Ashlee Gassiot, who is both a volunteer and the marketing chair of the Santa’s Workshop committee, said in addition to an appearance by the Claus,’ the event on Friday will feature appearances from other notable figures in the Baylor community.
“The kids will get to meet Baylor athletes, Bruiser the bear and of course Mr. and Mrs. Claus,” Gassiot said.
She said the kids will be presented with gifts at the end of the event.
“First they will make arts and crafts for about half an hour, then after meeting the Clauses and eating lunch, they will each get a gift from the pool we gathered during our toy drive,” Gassiot said.
Students who wish to volunteer to either help decorate on today or set up on Friday just have to show up and volunteer, Hurley said.
“We will be looking for students to help decorate the Student Life Center for the event at 6 p.m. today,” Hurley said. “We will also need help setting up on Friday morning starting at 8 a.m.”
Houston junior Mason Mulloy said he felt inspired by the generosity of the Baylor community in hosting Santa’s Workshop for so many kids.
“It’s really encouraging to see these people pour their love onto these kids who may not get to have a Christmas otherwise,” Mulloy said. “It’s really inspiring for the rest of the student body, and I think everyone should volunteer to help.”
Sugar Land junior Shelby Leblanc said this event will help remind students about what the Christmas season is really about.
“Most students are stressing about finals or their end of semester grade point averages during this time of year, when instead we should all be thankful and joyful,” Leblanc said. “Seeing the smiles on those kids’ faces will make all the stress go away.”