Canyon Cares Christmas Bigger, Better Than Ever

December 12, 2011 / by / 0 Comment

By Doug Carroll
Communications Staff

A GCU holiday tradition became more expansive than ever Sunday afternoon with the move of Canyon Cares Christmas to the Quad and Arena.

The University’s three campuses collected toys for 750 underprivileged children, and a team of 150 enthusiastic, green-shirted volunteers — students, faculty and staff — helped dispense them to neighborhood families. In previous years, the event had been held in and around Antelope Gym.

“This is one of those great opportunities we have to express our love and support for our community,” said Dean of Students Pastor Tim Griffin as he surveyed the hustle and bustle outside the Arena.

“It’s a wonderful time of year to do that, a chance to capture the moment. This is Grand Canyon at its best.”

On the grassy Quad, children lined up to visit with Santa and participated in various arts and crafts. Food by Bobby Q’s was served. Parents waited patiently to go inside the Arena to select toys that had been sorted and displayed according to six different age groups.

Standing by at tables in the Arena to wrap the gifts was a group of helpers that included Head Baseball Coach Andy Stankiewicz and a half-dozen of his players.

“I wish my wrapping skills were a little better,” Stankiewicz said, adding, “I’m sure the Spanish-speaking people are saying things behind my back.”

Rosia Rodriguez wasn’t complaining as she chose Barbies and a basketball for her two daughters, ages 12 and 7, and her 10-year-old son.

“We’ve fallen behind on a lot of things,” said Rodriguez, who heard about the event through the children’s school, Granada East Elementary. “My husband is able to work only two days a week. I cook and try to sell the food I make.”

GCU’s Jacqueline Cotoia, translating for Rodriguez and listening to her story, pressed a Target gift card into her hand.

“It’s great seeing the smiles on people’s faces,” said Cotoia, who volunteers every year. “Our volunteers never say no and are always looking for this opportunity to give back. It’s nice to see our administrators and athletes pitching in. We’re teaching values with this.

“My husband always says that even if he doesn’t volunteer, he knows I’ll volunteer him.”

Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].

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