Written by Ava Bramlett // Graphic by Ben Evans
This Christmas season, Harding organization Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) is offering students the opportunity to purchase Christmas gifts for children in need through the Angel Tree program.
In the lobby of the Ganus Activities Complex (GAC), an Angel Tree can be found with lists of the wants and needs of children from White County Central School. The goal of The Angel Tree is to provide each child with the things they need that their families may not be able to provide for them on their own. Assistant professor of kinesiology and director of HEAL Britney Finley said HEAL is working closely with Highway Church of Christ to meet the needs of children in the White County area.
“They have adopted 50 kids, maybe even 60 … from White County Central, and these children have been identified by their school counselor as being in need and probably not having much of a Christmas.” Finley said.
Finley said she took 20 of the children’s lists from Highway Church for Harding students to purchase gifts and that students can divide up the items on a single list so one student is not solely responsible for an Angel Tree child.
“[We] just brought that tree in, put it in the GAC and have a little sign-up sheet that people can take a kid off of,” Finley said. “[Students] go in with friends and go shopping and include even wrapping paper in there for the family, so the family gets to see what the kid’s getting and wraps it themselves.”
HEAL’s mission is to be the hands and feet of Jesus, Finley said. According to senior Kelli McKinnon, participating in the Angel Tree program is one way HEAL is actively working toward its original purpose.
“The Angel Tree project ties into our purpose because we desire to spread the gospel not only through health and wellness but through spreading joy to everyone that we can on campus and in the community,” McKinnon said.
Junior Skyler Marcellus-Ojeda said he hopes students will realize that HEAL is about more than eating well and exercising and that it provides students with opportunities they might not get elsewhere.
“[HEAL] is about helping people get the best out of their life that they can get in every aspect of their life,” Marcellus-Ojeda said. “The Angel Tree is one of those aspects … There [are] just so many ways to use your body for good, not necessarily going out and working out but using it to serve God’s kingdom.”
Students can find a sign-up sheet next to the Angel Tree to choose a list of items to purchase. The list for each Angel Tree child must be attached to the corresponding gifts and returned to the GAC by Dec. 1.