"Santa is here!" an entire group shouts as they clamber to line up for a photo with Father Christmas and his elves.
Santa and his helpers are really students from the Nurse Anesthesia Program (NAP) at Adventist University of Health Sciences who have spent months raising money to throw Christmas party for adults with developmental disabilities at Primrose Center, Inc.
The event, says David Creath, career and technical educator for Orange County, is the only Christmas some of the Primrose clients will have. Many of them live in group homes where neither family nor friends will visit to take them out for the holidays. The result is huge grins, hugs, and belly laughs as clients play games and make crafts with students from Adventist University.
"Christmas is always more fun when seen through the eyes of a child, and these Primrose clients are like children in ways," Rachel Honeycutt, senior NAP major, says with a grin. "They really think we're elves."
The effort that went into raising money was well worth it, says Erica Shaw, another senior NAP major.
"When I talk with NAP students at other schools, they don't understand why we do things like this, things that seem completely unrelated to our profession. But this is part of the Adventist University moral code: giving back, healthcare as ministry."
At the days end, Primrose clients receive more than pizza, goodies, and t-shirts made just for them; they get the sense that someone cares—really cares—and that's what Christmas is all about.
By Rainey Park