SGA’s Miracle at the Innovation Center

(Left) The members of SGA and volunteers wish ESU students a happy holidays from the Innovation Center. (Right) The children thank Santa Claus (student senator Seth Gordon) for their presents. (Photo Credit via Ronald Hanaki)

Ronald Hanaki
Contributing Writer

ESU’s Student Government Association (SGA) held its 22nd annual Teddy Bear Drive at the Innovation Center last Saturday.
At this event, members of SGA dressed up in costume and played Santa Claus as they gave away presents to children of families in need.
Junior communication studies major Brian Akonu is serving as SGA President this academic year.
Akonu revealed that they already had 32 children signed up for the event at the Dec. 1 SGA meeting.
The day was a runaway success. “I thought it was pretty cool. It was a very exciting experience. The little kids were really excited to see Santa and Mrs. Claus,” Akonu said.
“The fun part was the arts and crafts. That’s not what I expected to be their [the children’s] favorite part, but they really enjoyed it,” Akonu said.
SGA also showed a movie and shared pizza with the families and their children.
Akonu lives in Allentown, and he said that he had a lot of friends from back home help him put together this special event.
“We had actually more [gifts] than we needed, so we gave each kid multiple things. They were happy with their gifts,” Akonu said.
Of course, Akonu was proud of his fellow student senators who helped stage this special event as Santa’s elves.
“I am really proud of my senators. They came in here last night and helped set it up. I had some friends that came here and volunteered, too,” Akonu said.
Preliminary results of the Climate Survey distributed earlier this year were revealed at the latest Pa. State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Board of Governors meeting last October.
The climate study showed that community engagement was an area where PASSHE schools could improve. Akonu and SGA plan to remedy that need with other fun events.
For next year’s Teddy Bear Drive, SGA plans to go further out into the community to hold more holiday events like this one. Akonu and SGA are also planning a basketball event called “Warrior Hoop Gym” where students can play basketball with faculty members. The idea is to break the ice and create better relationships between students and faculty so that students feel that faculty members are more approachable.
“Next time you see your advisers, it’s not like you’re too scared to talk to them. You played basketball with them, so it gives them that sense of community,” Akonu said.
Akonu’s leadership and SGA’s activism are helping transform the community, and ESU dignitaries and even local political leaders are beginning to take notice. Stroudsburg mayor Tarah Probst and Provost Margaret Ball are among the VIPs who have attended the SGA meetings this semester.
Junior Grace Logan attended the Dec. 1 meeting for the first time out of sheer curiosity. She praised SGA for taking such an active role in the community at the end of the meeting.
“Glad to see so many students here trying to take care of the campus. I appreciate it. Thank you,” Logan said.

Email Ronald at:
rhanaki@live.esu.edu

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