Tuesday November 27, 2007

A Timeless Tradition

For one UD student, Christmas on Campus brings back special memories of his youth. Now it's Senay Araia's turn to "adopt" a child.

Senay Araia once was among the Dayton school children "adopted" by University of Dayton students for UD's annual Christmas on Campus celebration. This year, the UD student will give another child the same experience.

Araia was a second-grader at Lincoln Elementary School in Dayton when two UD students hosted him for the University's annual Christmas celebration.

"My situation then was a lot better than some of the kids who came from my school. But, even as a kid, we knew what was going on around us," said Araia, whose family now lives in Centerville. "This is a good opportunity to help the community. Adopting a is a way to help personalize someone else's Christmas on Campus experience."

Araia remembers thinking that UD's Christmas on Campus setup was large and elaborate.

"It was a special event," he said. "I don't remember the two guys who adopted me, but I do remember we had a good time. I remember their enthusiasm. They were really, really into it. I'll try my best to live up to that. This means a lot to the child, so it should mean a lot to the person showing them around."

The free, public event starts at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7 with a live nativity scene and the lighting of the tree in Humanities Plaza. It will end at 9:30 p.m. in the Frericks Center with a 40-person choir and a near-capacity crowd celebrating Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In between, children can navigate a winter wonderland of cartoon characters, games, dancing, singing, crafts, face painting and pictures with Santa Claus.

Changes implemented last year because of campus construction remain for this year. Children will arrive in C Lot, off Evanston Avenue by RecPlex. The carnival will be in RecPlex.

A complete schedule of events is available by downloading the 2007 Christmas on Campus schedule (pdf).

Ellie Kurtz, director of UD's student union from 1964 to 1994, started Christmas on Campus for a group of UD students who simply wanted to get together before heading home for the winter break.