The University of Central Oklahoma threw a king-sized party full of holiday cheer Wednesday for nearly 300 Edmond youngsters.

Chanting “UCO, UCO, UCO” as they exited their chartered bus, students from one of nine elementary schools entered the Nigh University Center, site of the annual UCO President’s Club Holiday Party.

First- , second- and third-graders experienced holiday carols, hands-on crafts, refreshments, pictures with Santa and gifts and stockings provided by UCO student, faculty and staff sponsors.

They were nominated to attend the party by their school counselors.

Kathryn Gage, vice president for Student Affairs, said the event helps UCO students learn about issues in their community and shows them they can make a difference in other’s lives.

“That manifests itself today,” Gage said.

Some students will be changed by the experience, Gage said. They will see that their hard work can have a positive impact on someone else’s life, she said.

Lynn Rowley, Edmond Public Schools’ executive director of elementary education, said the event is another example of the ongoing partnership between the school district and UCO.

About 500 UCO student, staff and faculty sponsors accompanied the children during the two-hour event. Another 100 volunteers helped with transportation, registration, activity centers and caroling.

Campus Life Director Scott Monetti said the 24 hours leading up to the party were hectic. Monetti was helping to sort gifts for the children.

“Anytime you have 300 kids in one place it is going to be an organizational challenge,” Monetti said.

Monetti said each year he does some volunteer community service.

“It feels great,” he said. “This is what Christmas is all about.”

Katrina Harper, president of the President’s Club, said she believes the holiday party is one of the most beneficial programs sponsored by UCO.

Harper and some organizers have been preparing for the event since August.

It’s the largest one-day event held at UCO, she said.

“Personally, this puts you in the mood for the holiday season,” Harper said. “We’re doing this for the kids; that’s the only reason.”


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