Annual ‘Circle of Love’ gift drive starts today

By Wesley Robinson

The Center for Community Outreach will kick off the 21st annual Circle of Love gift-giving event today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Center Great Hall.

Students, faculty and staff can pick up names of children in need of Christmas gifts during distributions today, Monday and Tuesday.

Those wanting to participate can also pick up names from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 529 Patterson Office Tower, the Student Center bridge lounge, the front entrance of Anderson Hall, the Peterson Service Building pedway entrance and the Agriculture Science Center North lower lobby.

Participants have until Dec. 4 to shop and should return presents to room 206 of the Student Center, said Laura Hatfield, assistant director of student involvement.

The Center for Community Outreach Circle of Love committee will then sort the packages by schools, and school counselors will pick up the presents on Dec. 7, Hatfield said.

Linda Reesor, coordinator of the family resource center at Julia R. Ewan Elementary School, said the best part of the program is when the schools come and pick up the gifts for the children. The Center for Community Outreach does not deliver the gifts directly to families, but Reesor said the organization typically hears back from the families.

“I wish everyone who is involved could see the looks of joy on their faces,” Reesor said. “The schools bring vans and trucks to load the gifts, and they are always overwhelmed with the generosity of our staff and students at UK.”

Circle of Love started in 1986, and the Center for Community Outreach joined the program last year.

Megan Tolley, an integrated strategic communications and English senior and the student director of Circle of Love, said students should get involved with the program because it is a reminder of how truly fortunate one is.

“Many of us are lucky enough to be able to make a children’s holiday wish come true, and there truly is nothing more rewarding than the satisfaction that brings,” she said.

“We have the power to put a smile on a child’s face with just a single wrapped package,” said Tolley, who is also a volunteer at the Center for Community Outreach.

Emily Salmon, a graduate assistant with the center, said with so many people in Lexington and the world in need of help, people who are able to give their time should help those less fortunate.

“We all know that that children make the holidays more special, and Circle of Love is designed to make children’s dreams come true,” Salmon said.