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AUHS Gives Gifts That Matter

American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) Foundation gave an early Christmas to hundreds of low-income families by giving each child a free toy at the “7th Annual Santa Cause Toys for Joy” event on Monday, December 12th, 2016. Participating families had the opportunity to take a free picture with Santa Claus and were provided with free snacks. The university parking lot came alive with Christmas wreaths, sparkling ornaments, nutcrackers, and a Christmas tree adorned with red poinsettias and a golden star. There was a display for the Santa Claus photo opportunity, a “Santa’s Workshop” booth where boxes of toys were displayed, and a booth with rows of bags filled with snacks. Cheerful Christmas songs such as “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Joy to the World,” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” played on a loudspeaker while people gathered outside the gates.

The line wrapped around the campus parking lot and was filled with children who were excited to meet Santa and receive their gifts. Over 40 AUHS nursing students volunteered at the event. The students were dressed in their blue uniforms but showed their holiday spirit by wearing elf ears, reindeer horns, and Santa Claus hats. AUHS nursing student Quione Rodriguez became Santa’s little bodyguard for this year’s event. He stood out amongst his fellow elves by dressing as a modern elf with blue sunglasses and a colorful sweater. Rodriguez accompanied Santa while he walked to the line to greet the attendees before the event began and helped families take pictures of Santa. “It was my first time participating in Santa Cause. I felt very privileged because I was able to interact with the families more than the other students were able to,” stated Rodriguez. He also added, “This [event] stuck in my head because that’s what being a healthcare professional is all about. Caring for people doesn’t stop when you ‘clock out.’ It becomes a lifestyle and people will always expect you to help.”

In addition, Amarri Sanders, AUHS Student Success Coordinator, also volunteered at the event by helping guide the families towards the toy booth. “The best part was seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces and to see how happy all the mothers were to know that their children will be getting a present for Christmas,” Sanders said. “I love how often the university does charitable events like this and how [all the staff and faculty] get to be a part of it.” Sanders donated a baby doll for the Santa Cause event and was able to see the little girl who received her gift. “It was heart-warming, and it felt like I did something meaningful for Christmas,” Sanders said.

AUHS thanks all the students, faculty, and staff for volunteering at this year’s Santa Cause event and for helping to bring joy to children in need this winter. AUHS also thanks Kellytoy for donating over 200 stuffed toys. This event would not have been possible without the grace of God and support and generosity from the public.

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