The holidays came early this year for the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster. About 85 students between the ages of 6 and 18 filled the lounge at McDaniel College Friday for a party that included crafts, coloring, face painting, singing and a special visit from Santa and three elves.
Santa gifted the kids with purple McDaniel College hooded sweat shirts.
McDaniel students were an integral part of the shindig as several student organizations worked craft and activity stations for the youngsters.
While some children rushed to get in line to make a gingerbread house, others opted to make snowflakes.
Folding his paper into elaborate shapes, 11-year-old Benjamin Lorch said, "This is the most unique snowflake I've ever made. I'm going to put it on my tree at home and I'm going to have Mom and Dad use it as a Christmas ornament."
Lorch, a first-year club member, created his snowflake alongside 12-year-old Jordan Moore-Taylor.
"This is my first year at the Boys & Girls Club," Moore-Taylor said. "I'm most excited about opening the presents."
The gift for McDaniel students is simply getting the chance to work with the youth enrolled in the Boys & Girls Club.
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Currently, about 20 McDaniel students work as mentors or tutors with the Westminster area children.
Sara Connolly is a junior majoring in sociology at McDaniel and has worked with the Boys & Girls Club for two years.
"A lot of the little kids like seeing Santa. The older school-age kids like doing crafts and going to the different stations," she said. "I love seeing them get excited about learning. When we help them with homework and they understand a concept they didn't before, it's really exciting. Some of these kids don't have a lot so when I see them get excited about something, it's pretty cool."
Erin Bishop, marketing director for the Westminster Boys & Girls Club, said the partnership with McDaniel is something valued by both the college students and the younger students.
"It's such an important partnership for us because the children get to benefit from the mentorship of the college students. It also helps the college students majoring in sociology or education because they get a firsthand experience working with children," Bishop said.
"It really is a great experience. These kids have learned to count on them so much and they've developed wonderful friendships."
Reach Sarah Hainesworth at 410-857-7873 or email email@example.com.