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Blinn partners with nonprofit ECI to host children’s Christmas party

Faculty and students volunteer to make holiday party a success

December 11, 2013

Kambree and Lily BurnsSanta may have been a polarizing figure at the annual Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Christmas Party, but the gifts, crafts, ice cream and holiday trivia had 70 toddlers and their siblings smiling and racing around Blinn College’s Barbara L. Pearson Banquet Room Friday night.

For the second consecutive year, Blinn instructors and students partnered with ECI, a program of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Brazos Valley, to hold a Christmas party for children with disabilities or developmental delays.

While several children nestled into Santa’s velvet lap and flashed grins at their parents, 1-year-old Emanuel Twitty Jr. let everyone know with a shriek that he preferred Saint Nick remain at a distance.

“This party—even though he doesn’t like Santa—means the world to me,” said Twitty’s mother, Mauricia Taylor. “It’s been a long, hard struggle for me and my baby, but the program has really helped him.”

ECI serves children from birth to age 3, offering developmental services to help children reach their full potential.

Students enrolled in Blinn’s Child Development Program handed out gifts, painted faces and served pizza and ice cream.

“This is a great experience for not only ECI but for our students, too,” said Amy Jones, Childhood Development Program coordinator.

“To me, this is what we do. We are here to serve students and to serve our community. This is a great partnership and a wonderful way to give back.”

Students and instructors from the Future Teachers Organization, Future Registered Nurses Club, Nursing Student Association and Dental Hygiene Program donated money or toys to provide an array of gifts for the children, from pencils and books to basketballs and craft sets. Jones said students and faculty from Blinn’s campuses in Brenham, Schulenburg and Sealy also made donations.

Second-year student Andie Tinney (Houston) learned about the party through her early education course and jumped at the opportunity to volunteer.

“I know how much the kids are going to get out of this,” said Tinney, who is studying to become a teacher. “Making the kids happy is what makes me happy. I want to show them that I care about them and give them a desire to learn.”

Alicia Stratta, an early intervention specialist/ service coordinator for ECI and a graduate of Blinn’s Child Development Program, said the party wouldn’t have happened without the aid of volunteers.

“In the past we have had to put the party together on our own, which is really difficult because we serve nine counties with 306 children enrolled in the program,” Stratta said. “Last year, we had the party in Blinn’s banquet room for the first time and it was incredibly popular. Our kids and their families are just so happy.”

Blinn enrolled 18,413 students this Fall and has experienced 31.1 percent growth since 2006.

Registration for the upcoming Winter minimester is available through Friday, Dec. 13, and students can register for the Spring semester through Jan. 12. For more information, visit: www.blinn.edu.