The final numbers from the Salvation Army angel tree project for the 2016 holiday season for the Arkansas River Valley are in, and they reveal that Arkansas Tech University students made the season brighter for a considerable number of area youth.
Of the 450 local children who had their wishes granted through the Russellville location of the Salvation Army, 200 were granted through an effort led by the College Panhellenic Council (CPC) at Arkansas Tech.
Nine Greek organizations at Arkansas Tech sponsored at least one Salvation Army angel during the 2016 holiday season.
Anna St. John, who served as CPC president in 2016, said the idea for taking on the project originated with a desire by the group to take on a new challenge.
“We realized that we could really make a difference and bring the Greek community together,” said St. John. “At the end of the year we really wanted to do a service project to give back to the community that got all of Greek life involved. We had quite a few meetings trying to figure out what it would be. When we started this whole project, I had no clue we would have such a positive response.”
Of the 200 children assisted through the Arkansas Tech CPC effort, more than 90 percent were sponsored by Arkansas Tech students. After the first 100 were chosen within an hour, the CPC reached out to Salvation Army and pledged to find sponsors for another 100 children. They fulfilled that pledge.
“It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my four years at Tech,” said St. John. “When everyone came to drop off all of the toys and clothes for their angels, it absolutely brought tears to my eyes. Everyone really came together as a community, dug deep and remembered the true meaning of Christmas. I think this really is a true testament to what our Greek students are capable of on this campus. Actions speak louder than words. I cannot express the joy and gratitude I felt towards everyone who helped contribute to this project. Saying that it was a success is an understatement. It was so awesome that everyone that participated just really wanted to give back and didn’t expect anything in return. It was the best feeling to realize just how many people truly cared about this project and giving these sweet kids the Christmas they deserve.”