HSU volunteers brighten Christmas for Abilene students

Saleena Ramzanali, a Hardin-Simmons University freshman from Hawley, enjoys spending time with kindergarten student Demetri at Johnston Elementary School in Abilene. (HSU PHOTO)

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ABILENE—Fifty volunteers from Hardin-Simmons University made Christmas brighter for students at two Abilene elementary schools.

The HSU students selected and wrapped gifts and delivered them to students during parties at Ortiz Elementary and Johnston Elementary schools as part of the annual “adopt-a-child” Christmas project sponsored by HSU’s Baptist Student Ministries.

Making a difference

“I signed up because I was looking a way to make a difference this Christmas,” said Seleena Ramzanali, a freshman from Hawley.

“I love kids, and getting to know this little guy has been a great deal of fun,” she added as she patted a new friend on the back—Demetri, a kindergarten student at Johnston Elementary.

Hardin-Simmons students enjoy throwing a party for elementary school children every year, BSM Director John Hunt said.

“It helps HSU students to connect with children in Abilene, and for us, and it is an opportunity to love our neighbor in a very direct—and very fun—way,” Hunt said.

In addition to distributing gifts, the HSU students helped with crafts and games during the party, which included a movie and refreshments.

Katie Barefield, a freshman nursing major from Abilene, helped recruit student volunteers for the BSM project. She fondly remembers having fun with university students when she was young.

Favorite things

“Now that I’m older, I have enjoyed several high school choir mission trips through Pioneer Drive Baptist Church. In Cleveland, Ohio, we did a Vacation Bible School for children, and I realized being with the kids is one of my favorite things,” she said.

“Many of our students who participate have been involved in children’s ministry in their home churches, and this event offers them a way to interact with children in a similar fashion.”

Ramzanali, a pre-med biology major, wants to be a pediatrician, and the party offered a perfect way to interact with children.

“I was greatly influenced by my own pediatricians in Abilene. They always took such an interest in me. So, I have been inspired to one day do the same,” she said. “It really is a wonderful feeling to find a way to make a difference in someone’s life.”

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