Local Christmas Events and Charities

As we begin to enter the season of Christmas, we get excited for presents, spending time with our families and maybe giving back to those in need. There are multiple Christmas events that take place every year that you can attend, and there are multiple charities that you are able to give back to. As they say at Christmas, it is better to give than to receive.

The main Christmas event that takes place at Seton Hill is Christmas on the Hill. This year it was on Saturday, Dec. 5.

This ginger bread house was designed by Walt Disney World in 2014. Photo courtesy by wcwmagic.com

This ginger bread house was designed by Walt Disney World in 2014. Photo courtesy by wcwmagic.com

Students get in for free and any other guests are $15. The traditional event starts with a dinner; there is an earlier dinner beginning at 4 p.m. and a later one at 7 p.m. In between the two dinners is the annual Christmas mass, and the night is ended with a dance in the McKenna Gym.

Before all of the fun at Christmas on the Hill, you and your friends can get on your best Christmas sweater and head to Midnight Bingo. This year’s event was in Reeves Learning Commons on Friday, Dec. 4. Your first bingo card is free and you will receive another free card if you wear a Christmas sweater. All other cards are fifty cents and there will be food and drinks available for purchase.

Although the event has passed, it takes place every semester. Also, midnight bingo counts as a charity because all of the money brought in goes to charity. Every year Seton Hill Student Government Association lets all of the members vote on which charity they would like to donate to. In past years they have donated the money to organizations such as St. Judes. Some suggestions for this year charity was Wounded Warriors.

The logo represents Overly's Country Christmas holiday light show and walk through. Photo courtesy by merchantcircle.com

The logo represents Overly’s Country Christmas holiday light show and walk through. Photo courtesy by merchantcircle.com

If you want to get out and see some Christmas lights, the best place to go is Overly’s Country Christmas is a holiday light show and walk through located here in Greensburg. The Christmas spectacular started on Nov. 20 and runs until Jan. 1.

Monday through Thursday, the cost is $12.00 per car or family van and Friday through Sunday the cost is $15.00 per car. For commercial vehicles and vans the cost is $22.00; admission is cash only. Sunday through Thursday the hours are 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m., weather permitting. On Friday and Saturday the hours are 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m., weather permitting. The light show however, is drive through only on Dec. 24 and 25 these are the only two days that Overly’s is closed.

If you love to build gingerbread houses every winter, then this next event is for you. At the Ramada in Ligonier, Pa. they have a Gingerbread House Contest from Dec. 5-13. You can choose to create your own gingerbread house or bid on your favorite. All proceeds made during the contest go to charity.

Salvation Army red kettle and bell ringer stands outside of Chicago store in the 2014 season. Photo courtesy by salarmychicago.org

Salvation Army red kettle and bell ringer stands outside of Chicago store in the 2014 season. Photo courtesy by salarmychicago.org

Of course, if none of these events are interesting to you, stop by the Westmoreland Mall to say hi to Santa Claus. If you are more into shows, check out the website for the Palace Theater to see what fun holiday shows are coming to Greensburg. Some of the performances they have this year include; A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Nutcracker Ballet, and Home For the Holidays Symphonic Winds Concert.

Widen your search and go to Google and look to see when the Nutcracker will be in town or when you can see the Polar Express.

These holiday events are great to spend time with your college friends before everyone goes home for winter break. Look up events near your hometown to see what fun events you can go to with your family. If you can’t find anything, go Christmas caroling with family. Also, don’t forget your hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.

Personally, I feel that the biggest Christmas charity that you can get involved with is the Salvation Army. When you go shopping, look for their volunteers ringing a bell and standing next to a red bucket. You can donate any amount, the money you donate goes to families in need this Christmas season. Also, at Five Below in the Wal-Mart plaza, you can donate any toy to a child in need. They let you chose from $1 to $5 for the price of the toy that you would like to donate.

Toys For Tots logo. Keep an eye out for this when doing your holiday shopping. Photo courtesy by netra.org

Toys For Tots logo. Keep an eye out for this when doing your holiday shopping. Photo courtesy by netra.org

At every Macy’s, there is a mailbox where everyone from children to adults can send Santa their Christmas list. For every letter that Macy’s receives, they will donate anywhere from $1 to one million dollars to Make-A-Wish. With the help of the Macy’s campaign, more than 254,000 wishes have been granted in the U.S. since 1980, and every 37 minutes a child in the United States gets their wish. Macy’s has raised $83 million for Make-A-Wish since 2003.

Operation Christmas Basket was held from Wednesday Dec. 2 and Thursday, Dec. 3. There were items to shop for, prizes to win and sweet things to enjoy, all while helping those in need. This lovely event is hosted on campus every year by Campus Ministry. All proceeds benefit Catholic Charities, Westmoreland County Food Bank and the Blackburn Center.

Another big charity that you can give to is Toys For Tots. Every year, the radio station 96.1 Kiss in Pittsburgh stuffs a school bus full of toys to donate to Toys For Tots; however, there are locations to donate to that are closer to Seton Hill.

Members of the 96.1 radio station stand on the bus they stuffed with toys for last year's Stuff-a-Bus fundraising event. Photo courtesy by wxpi.com

Members of the 96.1 radio station stand on the bus they stuffed with toys for last year’s Stuff-a-Bus fundraising event. Photo courtesy by wxpi.com

You can donate your toy at any Toys-R-Us. The ages of the children that collect the toys are infant to 12-years-old. The Greater Greensburg Marine Corps League Detachment 834 sponsors our local Toys For Tots program. Of course the Westmoreland Food Bank is always accepting canned food donations and volunteers around the holiday season.

While you are out enjoying Christmas events and family, remember those who need help. There are many ways that you can help out this Christmas season. See if a local church has a gift program where you buy a gift for a specific child. Donate your time to a homeless shelter or the food bank.

We tend to only think about the presents, but we need to think about others and what they are going through. You will feel so much better when you go out and help others in your community. Look to see what charities are local to you when you go home for winter break. Even if you don’t get to see where your donation goes to, you will know that you made someone’s Christmas better simply by donating your time and heart.

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