UTC’s Panhellenic Conference Contributes to Neighborhood House’s Toy Drive

By Linda Elliott

Chattanooga (UTC/TheLoop) – UTC’s Panhellenic Conference, which consists of Kappa Delta, Sigma Kappa, Chi Omega, and Alpha Delta Pi, participated in a Christmas toy drive for Chattanooga’s Northside Neighborhood House‘s Santa’s Workshop program.

The Christmas Tree brings holiday cheer to the Neighborhood House

The Christmas Tree brings holiday cheer to the Neighborhood House

“It was truly a blessing to get the support of the UTC Panhellenic group this year,” says Rachel Gammon, Executive Director of the Neighborhood House.

The Northside Neighborhood House is a branch of United Way which serves the North Chattanooga area.  The Neighborhood House offers services such as bill pay assistance to those who have disconnected utilities, adult education, and a thrift store located next door.

The Neighborhood House holds a yearly toy drive to provide Christmas gifts to area children.  According to Gammon, this year’s Santa’s Workshop program will provide toys to between 400 and 450 children.

“One of the obstacles of providing toys for children is finding the toys,” says Gammon.  “So, we contacted UTC’s Panhellenic group and they decided to take that on as their project.”

Gammon says the Neighborhood does a Santa’s Workshop style program because it is more beneficial both to the parents and children participating.

“The parents get to come in and shop for their children,” says Gammon.  “It gives the parents a sense of ownership when they are struggling or having hard times because they can come in and pick out what their child would like.”

Children play on the playground at the Neighborhood House's afterschol program

Children play on the playground at the Neighborhood House's afterschol program

Christina Sjoberg, Community Service Chair for the Panhellenic Conference, says being able to give back to the community is a big part of why the group took on the toy drive.

“I have been involved in some sort of toy drive every year,” Sjoberg says.   “Being able to give back to my community makes me feel like I’ve made some sort of change, no matter how small it is.”

According to its mission statement, the Panhellenic Conference,  “Exists to promote the values of and to serve as an advocate for its member groups in collaboration with those members, campuses and communities.”

Staying true to the community service aspect of their mission statement is important to Sjoberg.

Toys wait to be part of the Santa's Workshop program.

Toys wait to be part of the Santa's Workshop program.

“Community Service is one of my passions and to be able to help families in need have a wonderful Christmas for their children makes me have a wonderful Christmas as well,” she says.  “I want to see every child have the best Christmas they’ve ever had.”

Click here to see a related story about giving on UTC’s campus.

A Treatise on Christmas

By: Siobhan Rahilly

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) – Christmas seems to come earlier every year.  Christmas trees pop up before the fall leaves drop.  Commercials for Christmas shopping begin airing in the late summer.  Christmas shopping itself has become one of America’s time-honored pastimes.

The day after Halloween is literally the day that Walmart begins rolling thousands of Christmas items out into their stores.  Has the emergence of an earlier Christmas season been the effect of a society with less free time?

Kmart encourages shoppers to begin their holidays early by utilizing their layaway program, meaning that parents can multitask by shopping for back-to-school items and presents for the holidays at the same time.  This allows parents to take their time squirreling away those holiday goodies.

The barrage of advertisements for toys, décor, decorations, and every other item that can possibly be associated with the holidays reaches a fever pitch by Thanksgiving, a day that has been co-opted by both Christmas and the NFL.  Our holiday season seems to be longer now, but perhaps more focused on the ephemeral aspects instead of the heart of the matter.

The holiday season is a time when families and friends gather for a quick batch of quality time amidst otherwise jam-packed schedules.  This holiday season may find more people focused on homemade memories than store-bought prizes due to the fragile status of our economy.  Despite the advertising and the stress that holidays can bring, this time of the year seems to still bring people joy.  Plastic decorations, and presents under the tree provide many of the glittering aspects of the holidays.  However, some magic does still come from the interactions of loved ones at this rushed, but still treasured time of the year.