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SELC fills up Christmas stockings

Veronica Enriquez/The Prospector
SELC will surprise 192 children at the annual Secret Santa Celebration being held from 7-9 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the Memorial Gym. (Above) Cassandra Reyes.

The season of giving is almost upon us. For many children, this means the time of receiving an abundance of wrapped joys.  However, for a demographic of children here in El Paso, the holiday cheer isn’t always prevalent, especially since many foster and low-income children don’t have the opportunity to be on Santa’s gifting list.

The Student Engagement and Leadership Center (SELC) will hold its annual Secret Santa Program in hopes of filling a void for these children’s holiday season.

“It’s really great how this program provides the children with exactly what they want, having written it in the letter they sent. Otherwise, these kids wouldn’t have anything else,” said Esperanza Calendaria SELC administrative assistant.

“The UTEP community has been great. All of the children’s letters have been picked up and have been returned with the gift itself.”

In charge of this community service for almost 13 years, Candelaria sent out 200 letters to all the UTEP departments/organizations inviting them to partake in the program. Faculty started receiving letters in early October, the cut-off date was supposed to be Nov. 25, but as an effect of the generosity of the UTEP community, all the gifts needed were purchased, the deadline was met early.

“This annual community service event is very exciting,” Candelaria said. “It’s a lot of fun to see the kids finally receive their gift they long for so much.”

The Secret Santa Program provides donated gifts to those children, who otherwise wouldn’t have something to unwrap this Christmas.  The gifts were provided by the faculty, staff and students who donated toys, clothes, books and even sporting equipment.

Children from the Lee and Beulah Moor Children’s Home, The Center for Emergency Shelter, La Posada and Montana Vista Home were asked to send were asked to send letters stating what they wished for Christmasmto send were asked to send letters stating what they wished for Christmas.

Approximately 192 children sent in letters.

SELC welcomes any donations for their annual gift-wrapping party, which will be held on Nov. 27.  Bows, tape, gift tags, juice boxes, candies and cookies are all accepted.  Members  of Greek life, as well as the department itself, spend the evening wrapping the donated gifts to hand over to the children at the Secret Santa Celebration, held at Memorial Gym on Dec. 6 from 7-9 p.m.

Kids will get a chance to play volleyball, as well as enjoy snacks from a basket of goodies, cookies, juice and, of course, the appearance of Santa Clause and Mrs. Clause.

Ashley Rodriguez, a senior psychology major and SELC intern, said this will be her third year participating in the Secret Santa Program.

“It’s always really successful, which is great.

This year, we were able to get all gifts for every kid three weeks early,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez herself bought a 3-year -old a soft, warm jacket and some athletic wear.

“It was fun shopping for the jacket and it’s also rewarding seeing them opening their gift, knowing you got it for them.  It’s kind of like a community service that doesn’t feel like much work,” Rodriguez said. “Candelaria does a great job, her hard work makes this all happen.”

For any questions regarding the event or to give any further donations, Candelaria may be reached by phone at 747-5670 or by visiting the Student Engagement and Leadership Center, located at Union West, room 106.

Jose Soto can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Jose Soto, Staff Reporter
Jose Soto is a multimedia journalism major with a minor in creative writing. He joined The Prospector team in November of 2013 as an entertainment reporter. Jose previously wrote fashion blogs for various mediums. He has since written about musical performances, restaurant reviews, artist features and writes occasional columns. In addition to writing for the Prospector, Jose also writes for Minero Magazine and for The City Magazine. A fan of prose and lyricism, he also writes material on his personal time.  A musical enthusiasts as well, he strives to keep a broad music library and hopes to write music reviews while transitioning into news reporting as well.  He also highly enjoys coffee, reading a good book and dining out. Jose plans to pursue a career with The New York Times, The Denver Post or NPR.
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SELC fills up Christmas stockings