The joy of Christmas has varied meaning for everyone, but for those who feel that it’s better to give than to receive, Mays is the place to be. Under the supervision of Clinical Associate Professor of ManagementÂ Keith Swim, several hundredÂ management studentsÂ teamed up for the fifth year in a row to giveâ€”this year to 90 children of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in Bryan-College Station.
From MP3 players and computers to bikes, dolls and action figures, about 450 wrapped gifts are collected one day before finals each December. Swim’s student elves sort the wrapped goodiesâ€”with shiny tags and metallic bowsâ€”and line them down a new-toy scented hallway at Mays. And finally, each child’s Christmas bag is stuffed with gift selections, piled in Swim’s makeshift sleigh, and off to DFPS they’re sent.
These gifts are by no means hand-me-downs. The children request five things they want to see under the tree on Christmas morning.Â Swim’s students then choose gifts to buy, wrap them and drop them off for sortingâ€”last year’s gifts totaled more than $6,000.
“The students are the ones who should get all the credit,” Swim said. “They are the ones who buy the presents and make these kids have a great Christmas.”
Swim started the tradition of giving when a colleague at Blinn College was diagnosed with a brain tumor around this time five years ago. He asked his students to bring gifts to help out the single mother on Christmas morning. And that they didâ€”coming up with a truckload for each of her three kids.
Since then, Swim has organized Christmas giving each year depending on the needs of the community. Once, a student in class told Swim that his younger brother was in the burn center in Galveston. Instead of focusing on only the one little boy, management students collaborated and brought stuffed animals for all the children in the hospital.
Students also get their friends involved: this year, one sorority pitched in and bought a child an iPod; a group camped out to buy MP3 players; the tennis team donated a tennis bag; and several former students have been back to satisfy the wish lists. After Thanksgiving every year, the phone in Swim’s office buzzes constantly with offers of gift donations and help.
Regardless of the cause, students at Mays have proven willing to give. With a week’s worth of final exams ahead, one management student joined a line of donors outside Swim’s door with $46 in hand this December. Why the irregular amount? “It’s just what I feel like giving.”