Metro-east colleges plan holiday events

News-DemocratDecember 4, 2013 

Area colleges have a full slate of Christmas-related activities underway this holiday season.

Lindenwood University-Belleville was recognized as the United Way's top new campaign in the metro-east.

With more than 100 employees, the campus pledged $2,193 in its first local United Way campaign, according to Charlie Merker, director of the United Way's Illinois Division.

"These new dollars help the United Way agencies support their existing programs and add new ones to help people in our local community," Merker said .

Lindenwood Belleville's alumni and special events coordinator, Julie Sydow, said it's important to the school leaders to make a positive impact on the community in any way possible.

"Lindenwood University-Belleville's faculty, staff, students, campus organizations, and athletic programs always strive to reach out and help the community through service or financial support wherever and whenever we can," Sydow said. "The partnership that we have developed with the United Way is a great resource that can further assist the residents of Belleville and Southwestern Illinois."

LU-Belleville will host breakfast with Santa from 9-11 a.m. Saturday inside the U.S. Senator Alan J. Dixon Student Center.

Admittance is $10 a person with children 1 year old or less allowed to enter free. A pancake breakfast buffet will be served and kids can have their photo taken with Santa. Kids also receive a holiday craft, and children 10 and under with a paid ticket will receive a Build-a-Bear gift from Santa. Gifts are limited quantity. Tickets can be bought in advanced b calling 239-6297 or visitors may pay at the door the day of the event.

McKendree University junior Britani Beasley will introduce singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw on-stage at the "Y98 Mistletoe Show," sponsored by the university and St. Louis radio station Y98. The concert will be held Sunday at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.

The speech communication-public relations major from St. Elmo is the overall winner of the "Y98 Mistletoe Show Insider Competition" held recently on campus. In a two-part competition, students were invited to submit a video, essay or creative entry on "What McKendree Means to Me." Finalists were later judged on a mock on-stage interview at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts.

In addition to introducing DeGraw at the concert, Beasley will interview fans and Y98 on-air talent "Phillips and Company" as a red carpet correspondent before the show. She also may participate in a meet-and-greet with other Mistletoe Show performers Avril Lavigne, the Backstreet Boys, Colbie Caillat and Five for Fighting.

Southwestern Illinois College continues to collect toys for needy families this holiday season.

Its annual toy drive will collect items for kids until Dec. 20. They can be dropped off in the Main Complex at room 1246 at the Belleville Campus at 2500 Carlyle Avenue.

Specifically needed are board and card games, DVDs of family movies, books for children, sports equipment, model planes and cars, arts and crafts, diaries, radios, headphones, cameras, mittens and gloves, hats, blankets, hair accessories, purses and wallets.

Items should be new and unwrapped. All donations will be given to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois to distribute.

For more information, call 235-2700, ext. 5561.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at or call 618-239-2626.

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