Section: News

Holiday party honors past student, serves community

Holiday party honors past student, serves community

By Lauren Eller and McKenna Trimble

Santa Claus visited Kenyon College early this year, making a special appearance at the Shawn Kelly Memorial Holiday Party.

For the past 24 years, the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity has collaborated with Knox County Head Start, a local program with several centers throughout the county that provides child care, early education and health services for children, to host a two-day holiday party in early December for families in the community. The party was established in memory of student Shawn Kelly, a DKE and record-setting swimmer, who passed away during his freshman year in 1990 in a boating accident.

According to Dominic Camperchioli ’17, DKE community service chair, “[Kelly] was very into giving back to the community around Kenyon … [The party] is something that sort of embodies what he is about.”

Peter Lind ’15, president and former community service chair of the DKEs, reiterated what Camperchioli said. “This is our 24th annual, so we’ve been doing it for quite a while.”

Lind described the event as “the coming together of the family and the fraternity and trying to find a way to memorialize him and find an opportunity to give back in his honor.”

Although the party took place on Dec. 2 and 3, the planning began in September. 

Camperchioli worked with Laurie Jones and Tammy Anderson, two representatives from Head Start, to coordinate the preparations for the party. After reserving the Gund Commons Ballroom and booking Tom Lepley, a retired Kenyon maintenance worker and resident Santa Claus, the DKEs tabled in Peirce for a week to raise funds for children’s Christmas presents. In conjunction with the funds they raised, the DKEs received a sizeable donation from the Off-Campus Activities Program in Psychology (OAPP), all of which was used to purchase over 300 gifts. 

“It took us two days to sort them all out by and what would probably work best by gender,” Camperchioli said in regards to the toys.

Other donations — of resources and of time — are also valuable in the days leading up to the holiday party. According to Camperchioli, AVI donated oats and Cheerios for a reindeer food craft, the Owl Creeks and the Kokosingers each offered to perform a short program and several members of the Crozier Center for Women, the Equestrian Team and Zeta Alpha Pi donated their time to the cause.

However, the DKEs hold a special commitment to the event. “On Tuesday and Wednesday, if we don’t have a class or job, everyone volunteers all their free time to those ten hours,” Camperchioli said. 

According to Camperchioli, approximately 380 children and their families came to the party. Lind estimated that, in total, there were likely around 700 people present.

Each child received a gift, a visit with Santa and a hot meal. “Everything went smoothly, we didn’t run into any problems,” Camperchioli said. “If anything, we might have had too many volunteers. There were so many people that everything was being taken care of.”

Other Greek organizations hold events to support the community during the holiday season as well.  Holloway Cushman ’17, community service chair of Theta Delta Phi, wrote in an email to the Collegian that the Thetas are holding their annual card making event for Eastern Star Nursing Home.  The sisters of Alpha Sigma Tau also hosted a card making event for Emeritus Senior Living.


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