It’s a single-day event that takes months to pull off, but for Brock’s Concurrent Education students, seeing children smile a couple of weeks before Christmas makes it all worthwhile.
Students at Prince of Wales Public School in Thorold have had Thursday, Dec. 8 circled on their calendar since school began this fall. That was the date of the annual Concurrent Education Student Association (CESA) Holiday Extravaganza at Prince of Wales, where Brock students pair up with elementary school students for a day of holiday cheer.
“Even before we contacted the school to set up the final details for the event, volunteers who go to the school all the time were letting us know that the kids were excited in September because they knew it was coming up,” said Alanna Vosper, event co-ordinator for CESA. “We’ve been doing this for the last several years and it’s something that has really been ingrained in the school community.”
Designed to meet the need of additional support for students at the school — particularly at this time of year — Holiday Extravaganza is also an opportunity for Brock students to reach out to the community they’re part of.
This year, 155 Brock volunteers will be individually paired up with a Prince of Wales student, becoming their ‘Brock Buddy’ for the day and participating in crafts, face painting, story time and other festive activities.
“It feels really good to be doing this for this school because it’s such a close-knit place,” said Sydney March, event co-ordinator for CESA. “I’ve done a placement there and they’re the sweetest kids. I know how excited they are to be part of our Holiday Extravaganza.”
The highlight of the day-long event comes near the end when students will receive a gift from Santa.
“We try to encourage our volunteers to purchase a $20 gift,” said Tayler Villamere, CESA Vice-President of Finance and Administration. “It’s then given to the students by Santa — we try to ensure that Santa gives every student an equal gift.”
Each student will also receive a holiday gift bag as a result of CESA’s fundraising efforts.
Donations for the event came pouring in from the CESA mitten drive, Once Upon a Child (160 pairs of mittens), Pine Street Dental (160 toothbrushes and toothpaste), Glendale Dental Group (170 toothbrushes) Foodland in Thorold (granola bars and juice boxes), Sobey’s (fruit), Zehrs (gift cards), Canadian Tire (water bottles), Tim Horton’s (Timbits), and Brock students (various mittens, socks, etc.)
“A big thank you goes to the Brock and surrounding community,” said Vosper. “We wouldn’t be able to run the event to the extent that we do without them.”
Although the single-day event takes months to plan, Villamere said the reaction from the kids makes it worth the effort.
“At the end of the day when you see the students laughing, hugging their Brock buddy, and playing with their gift from Santa, they’re happy and safe and you realize that every minute of work was worth it.”