JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – For the 19th year in a row, ETSU student-athletes came together to bring the spirit of the holidays to local children, hosting the annual “A Buccaneer Christmas” in the Mini-Dome on Tuesday evening.
With the Johnson City Coalition for Kids acting as the host, a turnout of approximately 100 children were greeted by over 70 ETSU student-athletes representing the baseball, football, dance and cheerleading teams. In addition, the ETSU Marching Bucs’ drumline was on hand to give a special welcome to Santa Claus himself.
“It’s a really humbling experience,” said football senior Ben Blackmon. “Being able to play with the kids, hang out with them and give them gifts is a great feeling and something I look forward to every year.”
The Director of Community Outreach at the coalition, Cindy Young, said that this is her favorite event of the year.
“This is a time where the kids get to get on a bus, come to the biggest college campus around, have fun and play,” said Young. “I think the kids enjoy this more than anything because they get to interact with all of the students. All of the focus is on them and [ETSU] puts so much into this event and it is tremendous for us.”
Athletes helped facilitate the event, as children enjoyed mingling with the Buccaneers with stations set up to participate in special games. The children also opened gifts and spent time with Santa Claus.
“It was an awesome night and a great experience for us and the kids,” said baseball senior Cade Gilbert. “It’s a lot of fun interacting with the kids, seeing them run around and smiling throughout everything they’re doing.”
The ETSU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics takes pride in its community service activities and strives for 100 percent participation from its student-athletes, coaches and administrators throughout the year.