Emory Report

December 7, 1998

 Volume 51, No. 14

Departments, undergrads pull together to celebrate holidays with schoolchildren

Juha Kokko, chair of the Department of Medicine--the University's largest--decided last year to forego the department's annual Christmas party and host a celebration for students at a local Atlanta elementary school. This year the department aimed to bring the party back to campus, inviting the entire Emory community to join undergraduates, physicians, Spanish teachers, music department faculty, museum staff and many others hosting a gift-giving celebration Dec. 11 that promises to be one of the most meaningful of the holiday season.

From 10-11 a.m., some 280 Atlanta schoolchildren will visit Glenn Auditorium for a holiday program that will include musical performances, a comedy skit and other activities. The children are students at Slaton Elementary and many developed relationships with Emory undergraduates who tutored them through the Emory READ program. About 35 Emory READ volunteers will take a break from finals to help host the event.

Beginning at 11:15 a.m., department of medicine physicians will gather at the church's fellowship hall to present each child a wrapped book chosen from that child's wish list. AmeriCorps volunteers through The Atlanta Project will be wrapping gifts and decorating for the event.

"This is one of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had," said Kokko. "I still remember last year's event, yet I couldn't tell you about any of the cocktail parties I went to."

Emory Campus Dining is donating refreshments, Spanish department faculty will serve as interpreters and graduate students will provide entertainment. Some of the children will get tours of the Carlos Museum, some will tour the campus and some will make world play toys fashioned after those made by kids in other countries. In the spirit of the season, other children will bring cards and gifts they've gathered to send to children in a Ghana hospital.

Event coordinator Neil Shulman, associate professor of medicine, said the hope is for all University departments to follow suit and plan next year to model their own holiday parties after this one.

--Lorri Preston

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