Community & Friends

Sprucing Up Christmas

Posted on Friday, December 5th, 2014 by CommunityEngagement. Tags: ,
Mariah Governor, president of UNCG’s Student Alumni Ambassadors

Mariah Governor, president of UNCG’s SAA


Mariah Governor, president of UNCG’s Student Alumni Ambassadors (SAA), has worked with SAA’s Christmas-time Branches of Love project for four years. You might say her heart is in it.

“Being able to give back is really enriching,” says Mariah, a senior majoring in communication studies. “It means a lot, especially as a college student. A lot of times we feel we don’t have much to give, we don’t have a lot of money. The most important thing commitment or donation you can give someone is your time.”

Student ambassadors, who currently number 31, serve as liaisons between students, alumni and administration. Branches of Love, now in its ninth year, provides Christmas trees and gifts to needy Greensboro families.

“There’s lots of faculty and staff support,” says Channing Lawson, SAA advisor. “And it’s a good way for us to involve alumni.”

Lawson points to five large bundles of ornaments stacked in his office on the lower floor of the Alumni House. Those decorations were bought with alumni donations.

Teams register by donating canned food, Christmas presents and/or money. On Nov. 22, teams gathered in the Virginia Dare Room of the Alumni House, to enjoy holiday music, cocoa and cookies as they decorated trees.

Teams of students, faculty and staff competed in several categories — including Nature’s Bounty and Most Old-Fashioned. Teams had about two and a half hours to work their magic, with prizes going to the NEO Black Society, the Biology Club, the Alpha Student Chapter of the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the UNCG Seraphim.

Lawson says SAA planned a warm, fun tree-decorating event that would strike a holiday chord for teams. “It’s for a great cause, but we also wanted to make sure everyone is in high spirits.”

Student ambassadors bought 30 artificial trees this year, all six-feet tall and pre-lit. The trees spent the night in Virginia Dare before ambassadors delivered them Nov. 23, via rented U-haul, to Partnership Village in Greensboro. Partnership Village supports families with limited finances by offering a sliding scale for housing.

Mariah says she feels something like Santa Claus when SAA delivers trees and other items. “When the kids are there; they are screaming and yelling they are so excited,” she says. “The families are really welcoming.”

And why not give back? she asks. The spirit of community and service is what drew her to UNCG in the first place. “At this time of year, we’re all expecting to receive something.Why not give something genuinely?”

Reposted from UNCG News and Features
Story by Michelle Hines, University Relations
Photography by Carlos Morales