This Holiday Season, HPU Family Gives Back Through Various Initiatives

High Point University students raised more than $17,500 for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 23, 2019 – Throughout the months of November and December, High Point University students, faculty and staff hosted programs to benefit the local community and beyond. These efforts are part of the 110,000 hours of service and thousands of dollars that the HPU family contributes each year to local causes.

Community Christmas

HPU’s ninth annual Community Christmas celebration welcomed thousands of visitors to campus to enjoy Christmas music, decorations a visit with Santa Claus and so much more.

“The joy and sparkle you see in the eyes of these children who come with their families remind us all of the magic HPU’s Community Christmas brings,” said HPU President Nido Qubein. “We have hundreds of faculty, staff and students who volunteer their time to make this special for our community.”

Community Prayer Breakfast

HPU welcomed 1,000 community members to the James H. and Jesse E. Millis Athletic and Convocation Center to kick off the holiday season for its 49th annual Community Prayer Breakfast.

“Thank God for the wonderful people that support this university,” said HPU President Nido Qubein. “Let’s worship together now. Our mission of God, family and country is carried out every day but especially during this holiday season. Christmas is not about Christmas trees, it is not about gifts, it is about remembering that Jesus Christ was born in a manger in Bethlehem. Christmas is about how to live, how to love and how to have grace present in our visceral beings.”

Rev. Dr. L. Gregory Jones, dean of Duke Divinity School and theologian, spoke at this year’s event, sharing a message on how to carry the spirit of Christmas and embody it every day.

“Christmas is not a time of year, it’s a state of mind, a way of life,” said Jones. “The spirit that develops in December is a time to shape our lives and be a focal point for how we live. The love that comes down at Christmas is about God reconnecting us to him and reconnecting us to one another.”

The Community Prayer Breakfast is one of HPU’s signature Christmas traditions. Those in attendance enjoyed special music provided by local church choir groups and an opening carol from the HPU Chapel Choir, directed by Dr. Marc Ashley Foster.

HPU’s Community Prayer Breakfast is supported by Digger Enterprises, Fence Builders, Inc.,

Johnson’s Modern Electric, Smith & Jennings, Inc. and the Haggai Prayer Breakfast Fund.

Stuff a Stocking Campaign

HPU students gathered to make a difference for children in the local community and stuffed 750 stockings for the Salvation Army’s annual Stuff a Stocking Campaign.

“This time of year can be stressful for families, and it is fulfilling to be able to help alleviate some of that,” says Tucker Wilson, HPU’s Student Government Association service chair. “Helping to provide a few of life’s basic necessities through the Stuff a Stocking project spreads positivity and happiness around the holidays.”

Wilson joined student volunteers to fill stockings with toys, school supplies, toiletries and more. Each year, HPU’s Student Government Association invites students to support this initiative, which is part of the university’s annual 110,000 hours of community service.

Angel Tree Program

HPU’s Board of Stewards organized several shopping events to purchase more than $17,500 in toys, clothes and necessities for 175 children in the High Point community for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program.

“Each gift represents a smile on the face of a child in need, and that is worth more than all the time and money in the world,” said Christine Watt, HPU’s Angel Tree project leader and president of HPU’s Board of Stewards. “It’s exciting to have such a dedicated group of students working hard to make Christmas happen for our neighbors throughout High Point.” 

The Board of Stewards partnered with 29 campus organizations, including staff, the Student Government Association, Greek Life and other campus clubs. The money was raised through fall chapel offerings and other fundraising initiatives.

Stout School of Education Book Buddy Celebration

HPU’s Stout School of Education students celebrated the conclusion of the HPU Book Buddy tutoring program this semester with their respective book buddies from Montlieu Academy and Fairview Elementary School. During the celebration, the students read books together, made crafts, completed a scavenger hunt and sipped hot cocoa in the Stout School of Education.

As part of the program, the HPU students wrote lesson plans individualized towards each child’s needs and spent one hour a week reading and writing together, focusing on comprehension, fluency and the writing process.

“The Book Buddy program marks the first time we are assigned a student to mentor one-on-one,” said Maggie Brown, a junior elementary education major. “We are able to apply what we learn in class and figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

The HPU students presented their book buddy with three gifts, including a personalized book log capturing all the reading the child has completed during the semester; a published book they wrote and designed together throughout the semester; and a new special book tailored to the child’s unique interests.

“When the students arrived, I was jumping up and down,” said Faith Hemric, a junior majoring in special education. “I couldn’t wait to share the gifts and book we completed together with Mckenzi. These students really deserve this.”

Student Council for Exceptional Children Special Populations Dance

HPU’s Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) and the city of High Point’s Parks and Recreation Department hosted this year’s Christmas Special Populations Dance for individuals with disabilities.

“HPU is one of the best group of volunteers we’ve ever worked with,” said Jeff Caudill, a volunteer with the city of High Point’s Parks and Recreation Department. “The students get out on the dance floor and interact with the participants.”

This year’s event featured a bustling dance floor, Christmas crafts and a visit from Santa Claus.

“This event is meant to provide a safe and welcoming space for the special needs community of High Point,” said Rebecca Magod, chair of HPU’s Christmas Special Pops Dance. “This dance draws a big crowd every year because Santa visits.”

HPU’s SCEC consists of majors from across HPU who share a common interest in promoting awareness and providing support for individuals with disabilities. The organization will host a Valentine’s Day Special Populations Dance in February 2020.

LifeLines Poetry Project at Pennybyrn

HPU’s LifeLines program provided poetry readings, interactive performances of poems and stories, and holiday music sing-alongs to citizens of Pennybyrn Retirement Community.

“Our residents seem more engaged and a lot happier,” said Jennifer Balance a life enhancement coordinator for assisted living at Pennybyrn. “We have a strong partnership with HPU. I’ve been amazed with the students’ work and volunteerism this semester.”

HPU’s LifeLines is a program dedicated to engaging elder adults, particularly those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, in communal poetry writing to aid memory and elevate overall physical and psychological wellbeing.

“This is a moment where we can be present together and celebrate what we’ve accomplished,” said Allison Walker, instructor of English. “It’s a wonderful event because we get to share the energy and give back to our community.”

Throughout the year, members of HPU’s LifeLines have engaged the extended community in numerous ways, building a partnership with organizations such as Pennybyrn, an assisted living and memory care facility for elder adults, and Operation Xcel, an after-school program for local middle school students.

Nido R. Qubein School of Communication Gift Donation

HPU’s faculty, staff and graduate students in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication donated Christmas gifts to the Guilford County Family Justice Center and Family Services of Davidson County, helping six families.

This is the eighth year the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication has donated gifts to local families.

“We’ve been so blessed here at High Point University, and it’s our responsibility as members of the local community to help brighten the holidays for our neighbors,” said Dr. Matt Ritter, assistant professor of strategic communication at HPU. “For eight years, we’ve joined together as faculty and staff to support this mission. It’s a small gesture, but one we know means a lot.”

Hannah Mould, child trauma specialist coordinator at the Guilford County Family Justice Center, enjoyed seeing all the gifts for the families that they serve.

“The Family Justice Center exists in partnerships, and HPU is one of our biggest,” said Mould. “Just seeing how much the university cares about its community is amazing.”

Sales Club Turkey Donations

HPU’s Professional Selling Club supported 100 local families by purchasing Thanksgiving dinners for them.

This is the fifth year the club has raised money for Thanksgiving dinners. Each year, they partner with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater High Point to help load the boxes of dinners onto the buses.

“The families are happy to be receiving a meal today,” said Kenny Mack, vice president of operations at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater High Point. “Having HPU partnering with us to deliver meals makes it better. Together, it’s our city, and we all like to partner to support those in need.”

“It feels great to give back to the community before we leave for break next week to be with our families,” said Jackie Davey, HPU senior and vice president of philanthropy for the Professional Selling Club. “We are all so grateful to be a part of HPU and be a part of today’s donation event.”

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