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NMJC Student Group Helps Foster Children Celebrate Christmas

NMJC Student Group Helps Foster Children Celebrate Christmas photo 12/6/2007 5:39:12 p.m. - Hobbs, NM. Christmas came a little early this year for some Lea County children, thanks to members of New Mexico Junior College's Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society. On Thursday, December 6, approximately 130 foster children were treated to a Christmas celebration at the Lea County Event Center.

Kicking off the event were the NMJC Sensations who, dressed in Victorian costumes, sang Christmas carols to the approximately 200 people in attendance while the Cosmetology department painted little faces with holiday designs. The NMJC ThunderSpirits cheerleading squad delighted the group with a fast-paced dance routine prior to a kid-friendly dinner of hamburgers, chips, and cookies.

Santa later arrived to distribute gifts, voluntarily purchased and wrapped by faculty and staff from NMJC and members of PTK. According to Dr. John Gratton, NMJC Vice President for Instruction who co-sponsors PTK along with Dr. Regina Organ, Vice President for Student Services, the organization receives a list of names of Lea County foster children from Child Protective Services prior to the event. This year, approximately 140 names were received, and within several days NMJC personnel had spoken for all names on the list. According to Gratton, the success of the annual event is due to the committed and generous individuals who assist. What's received in return, however, more than compensates for the time and energy invested. "It is really emotional to see some joy brought into children's lives that are much less fortunate than our children," he said.

For PTK president Denise Rusk, participation in the event is equally gratifying. "Christmas is such a meaningful time of year for these children, and setting aside a special evening just for them is invigorating. It's so exciting to see their eyes light up when they receive their gift, knowing that someone cares about them. It's hard work to put this function together, but the reward of seeing these children have a great time is well worth the time spent."

Other members of Phi Theta Kappa include Lenora Peters, Vice President; Rene Reynolds, Secretary/Treasurer; Benny Thompson; Brent Cant; Carrie Suggs; David Dyck; Elizabeth Johnson; Kalie Taylor; Karina Olivas; Leslie Selby; Rene Watts; Wade Parks; Amy Castleberry; Anne Neuddorf; April Austin; Audrey Medrano; Holly Dean; Jessica Puckett; Joey Friesen; Lisa Brooker; Matthew Noles; Nicholas Tyler; Noel Ponce; Sarah Roper; Shannon Duncan; Shannon Watkins; Amy Bigham; Chantell Wittman; Ricky Adams; Alberto Hernandez; Beth Hancock; Betty Holley; Bridgette Davis; Cassie Trujillo; Cherie Sager; Crystal Saenz; Dixie Jordan; Grace Onuma; Jazmin Claro; Heindel Adu; Karla Arellanos; Laura Wall; Lizette Bayona; Loretta King; Maria Martinez; Marycruz Claro; Nichole Villenueva; Sandra Marin; Sreyesh Dronamraju; Cecily Coleman; Donald Johnson; Donald Riggins; Casey Wilbanks; Holly Mee; Joe Miller; Kelley Chapman; Kristi Hinojos; Jessica McGraw; John McGraw; Michael Rushing; Dayna Norman; Nicholas Fregia; Jason Merrell; Shawnlee Caballero; Sarah Harris; Lori Simpson; and Yu Liu.

PTK holds several events throughout the year in order to sponsor the annual Christmas party, which has been held for the last eight years. According to Rusk, the next event will be a Book Drive, which will be held next week. College students who aren't selling their books back can donate them to PTK, who will sell them to a book company who will use them to help fight illiteracy. Other events include a Valentine's Day fundraiser and Project Graduation.

For more information about PTK, please call Dr. John Gratton at 575.492.2763.

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