VU athletes host Christmas party for kids

On Friday afternoon, a Vanderbilt holiday tradition continued when Vanderbilt student-athletes hosted their annual party for children from the Nashville area. Last summer Vanderbilt student-athletes helped to paint the interior of the Andrew-Jackson Boys & Girls Club, and on Friday children from the Boys & Girls Club were the honored guests at the party.

Each year the holiday party is held on Reading Day, the day between the last day of classes of the fall semester and the first day of final exams. Student-athletes from all of Vanderbilt's varsity teams donate their own money to a fund to pay for gifts for the children. Then each team is responsible for buying and wrapping the gifts for the children assigned to them.

The party is held on the practice court in Memorial Gym. Before the children arrived, the gym is quiet, and bags of gifts await the arrival of the guests. (What's Chris Williams doing with a Santa Claus suit???)

Members of the bowling team wait for the party to start. Back: Mandy Keily, Josie Earnest, Tara Kane. Front: Kaitlin Reynolds, Michelle Peloquin, Ashley Belden

Brett Jacobson, Nick Christiani, Pedro Alvarez, and David Price from the baseball team are waiting too.

The guests arrive!

As the children gather 'round, Santa Claus reads The Night before Christmas. Mr. Commodore acts out the story.

The women's basketball team, who returned Friday morning from Durham following a Thursday night game at Duke, enjoy the story.

After Santa Claus gives each child a bag of gifts, the child joins the student-athletes who picked out the gifts and wrapped them.

As gifts are unwrapped, the little kids and the big kids start to play with them. Billy Whalen from the golf team gets an assist on the dunk.

The women's tennis team poses for a photo with their special guest.

Merideth Marsh from the women's basketball team

Just how tall is Santa Claus, anyway? Taller than Amy Malo and Liz Sherwood, post players on the women's basketball team . . .

. . . . but not quite as tall as Alan Metcalfe from the men's basketball team.

All around the gym the play continues. There are plenty of dolls and toy cars, but when the party is held on a basketball court and the hosts are athletes, including Jen Risper, basketballs and footballs are everywhere.

Paul Levy, the official Vanderbilt photographer for the event, helps out with assembly of a toy car.

The party is a fun break from studies, but when it's over, final exams are the next item on the calendar. Freshmen like Ashlee Bridge from the women's basketball team and Chavon Alex from the track team are now about to enter their first experience of college exam week before the holiday break.

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Photos copyright 2006 by WhitneyD for

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