Students hosted in the St. Paul and Minneapolis areas joined forces at Merrick Community Services on December 17 to bring holiday cheer to local families in need. A total of 15 Kennedy-Lugar YES, 1 FLEX, and 4 Congress-Bundestag students turned into Santa’s elves on this chilly Saturday morning before Christmas. With big plastic bags slung over their shoulders and wearing AFS T-shirts, these students accompanied local mothers and fathers through a maze of donated gifts piled high on tables that were labeled either Boys or Girls. The task: Helping these parents select gifts for their children.
For most of the students, this was a cross-cultural experience on top of being a Community Service activity: Students were preparing for their first Christmas, which was coming on the heels of their first Thanksgiving and first snowfall ever the month before. At the end of the activity, cluster coordinator Nick Shuraleff led a group discussion about how volunteering, like holiday giving, can be both meaningful and fun. To close the activity, coordinator Bob Boyce passed around English crackers (small presents that “pop” when opened) to all of the students. This final enrichment activity of 2011 went out with a true “bang.”