DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The pandemic is changing the way the University of Dayton is carrying out a decades-old Christmas tradition.
It’s normally called Christmas on Campus, where more than 1,000 Dayton Public School students and other children throughout the community come to the University of Dayton for some holiday festivities — including pictures with Santa and craft projects. This year, however, it’s Christmas “off” Campus to help keep everyone safe.
Christmas on Campus dates back to 1963 and is believed to be one of the nation’s largest single-day on campus community service events.
“Different crafts and activities and Santa’s there and there’s a tree lighting,” describes Dana Roscoe, a UD senior and part of the Christmas on Campus Planning Committee.
This year, instead of inviting children to campus, the planning committee is delivering Christmas to them.
“We always wanted to make sure we did something especially because the kids look forward to our event,” says Hannah Ilyavia, a UD senior and part of the Christmas on Campus Planning Committee.
The planning committee has put together nearly 2,000 take-home craft bags to deliver the holiday to students.
“Kits contained little craft activities that they would’ve done,” describes Hannah. “A lot of them were very creative. So there was a build your own snowman. We did Christmas trees with cupcake liners and Popsicle sticks. There was a variety.”
The committee crafted something else too.
“We decided to write a children’s book,” says Dana. “We used the theme of this year, which is ‘I’m Dreaming of a Dayton Christmas: Traditions Live on’.”
The 16-page collaboration was illustrated by local students with a special message.
“Although we may not be able to be together physically like there’s still that presence of the community around,” states Dana.
Extra kits were donated to East End Community Center. The committee also had a gift drive and donated two carloads of gifts to Dayton Children’s Hospital.