Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Holiday Helpers

  • News Image
    Students in Southwestern's Circle K International group package gifts to deliver to families in Matehuala, Mexico, over holiday break.
  • News Image
    Mary Jansen, philanthropy chair for Sigma Phi Lambda, stands with toys her sorority collected for needy children in Central Texas.

Southwestern students make time to help others this holiday season

For most Southwestern students, December means wrapping up fall semester classes and getting ready for finals. But for many, it also means giving to others.

Members of the Sigma Phi Lambda Christian sorority have worked all semester to collect gifts for the Angel Tree Project sponsored by the Salvation Army. The sorority “adopted” 215 children this year, all of who have parents incarcerated in the Austin area. Sorority members recruited students on campus to shop for each of the children when they went home for Thanksgiving.

“It’s nice to see students open their hearts and pockets to shop for these children,” said member Kathryn Bollich. “Some even took two children to shop for. Despite the economy, students were very generous this year.”

Members of Circle K International - a new student organization on campus this year - also have been collecting toys, as well as food and clothing, to deliver to families in the state of Matehuala, Mexico, over Christmas break.

“There are literally hundreds of families on the side of the road with children who do not have anything,” says Juan Juarez, a sophomore political science and international studies major who is president of the Circle K International group on campus. Juarez says his family usually takes items to Matehuala when they go to visit relatives in Guanajuato, Mexico, over Christmas break, and this year they decided to ask the campus community to help because they are never able to provide enough presents to everyone who needs them.

Juarez, who lives in Jarrell, also got students from Jarrell High School to help out with the project. His family will rent a trailer to deliver all the goods collected.

In Georgetown, members of the Southwestern swim teams are helping with a fundraiser for Handcrafts Unlimited, a store on the downtown square that sells arts and crafts made by seniors to help supplement their income. The store holds a “Kids Shopping Days” event where children are invited to come shop at the store without their parents to buy gifts for teachers, family members, and others. Each child has an adult “helper” assigned to assist with their shopping. Members of the Southwestern swim team have served as “helpers” for the past five years.

“The children’s eyes really light up with awe when they discover their shopping companion is a college student,” says Rose Taylor, a volunteer with Handcrafts Unlimited. “We owe much of the success of this event to the efforts of the students. They are to be applauded for their community spirit.” 

This year’s event at Handcrafts Unlimited will be on Dec. 7 and 14 from 12:30-2 p.m.


Members of several other Southwestern athletic teams also reach out to the community during the holiday season. Rather than giving gifts to each other, members of the tennis teams bring money and gifts for local charities to their team party. This year their donations are going to The Caring Place in Georgetown and the Bike for Kids program sponsored by MIX 94.7 radio station in Austin. They will deliver money collected for the Bike Program when it holds a donation day in Georgetown Dec. 9. 

“I’m very proud of how this team helps to make the holidays special for other people in our community,” said coach Lester Sombito, who suggested the idea when he came in 2004. 

On Dec. 17, members of the women’s basketball team will be serving lunch to senior citizens at the Round Rock Senior Citizens Center.