Adrian College student volunteers help make holidays special

ADRIAN — One of the perks of having students come to Adrian College from across the country for an education at a United Methodist Church affiliated institution is many join other like-minded, caring people who go out of their way to help others. Approximately 100 of Adrian College’s students recently volunteered and helped prepare Comstock Park for this year’s Christmas Riverwalk, hoping to make it extra special for residents of Lenawee County.

Adrian College’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) coordinated the volunteer event where students prepared the stakes for the Christmas trees in November so the Christmas Riverwalk could open to the public in December. Adrian College’s football team members unloaded the Christmas trees at the park.

Former Adrian Mayor Jim Berryman, an Adrian College Board of Trustee member, began the Riverwalk seven years ago and it began with just 34 Christmas trees. With proceeds from the event going right back into its funding the following year, the Riverwalk gets larger year after year. This year, the walk features more than 400 trees, including a towering 32-foot tall artificial Christmas tree as the centerpiece — called the Tree of Wishes.

The Tree of Wishes, funded by Berryman, the City of Adrian and the Hickman and Kapnick families, has a red, Christmas-themed box next to it where visitors can submit their wishes.

Out of more than 400 lit trees in the park, five stand out among the others after being decorated by Adrian College students and staff with Adrian College-themed ornamentation. Adrian College’s trees have been moved for the first time in seven years and are now located on the left-hand side of the main Comstock Christmas Riverwalk sign.

Lesley Dempsey, Adrian College special projects and communications coordinator, enrollment and student affairs, has coordinated the decorating of Adrian College’s sponsored trees since the very beginning. She lets the volunteers decide how each tree will be decorated and the designs change every year. This year, Adrian College TV (ACTV) students decorated Adrian College’s Trees.

 “Everyone looks forward to the Comstock Christmas Riverwalk because it’s just beautiful,” Dempsey said. “Our students, faculty and staff, and many alumni go out of their way to see our Adrian College-themed Christmas trees sparkle among all the others. It just warms our hearts to see their faces light up when they finally see our trees.”

Adrian College has more than 60 student clubs and organizations and many give back to the local community by volunteering throughout the year.

Around the same time the SAAC students were preparing Comstock Park for the Christmas Riverwalk, Adrian College’s Theta Chi fraternity provided community service by helping out a family going through a tough time dealing with medical issues. Adrian College alumnus Mike Berthold organized the event where fraternity brothers did yard work and helped clear out the family’s basement.

Faculty and staff at Adrian College also help whenever possible. Many donate gifts through a Christmastime gift-giving drive at the College to help make the holidays brighter for local families in need. This year, Adrian College’s faculty and staff collected two bins full of gifts in the Arrington Ice Arena and donated them to Associated Charities.

For more information about Adrian College, visit adrian.edu.