Ringing in the holiday season, the ninth annual Lighting the Way program took place at The University of Southern Mississippi Wednesday evening, sponsored by the Student Government Association.
The traditional program started at 5:30 p.m. at the Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building South Lawn. Activities at the event included musical performances, the lighting and decorating of the Southern Miss Christmas tree and a photo-op with Santa. USM mascot Seymour made an appearance, and free hot chocolate and chili were served at the event.
Serving as a community philanthropy event, Lighting the Way raised $1,500 that will go to SGA-sponsored charity Homes of Hope for Children, a nonprofit organization meant to support children in crisis.
This year, SGA sold lanterns and accepted donations to raise profits for the charity. Homes of Hope for Children serves children in crisis throughout Mississippi by providing strong Christian homes to every child living on campus while ensuring that each child is loved unconditionally and has their physical, spiritual and emotional needs met.
“The Christmas tree is lit up, and all the lanterns at the front to campus look great, but the best part is we’re able to give to one of the local charities,” said Jeffrey George,SGA President. “It’s great that we’re able to help them, especially during the holiday season when charities are in such great need.
“Other than what we’re able to give to the community through our donation that we make, the best part is that we welcome the community on to our campus, we invite local schools and churches to be come and enjoy this and be a part of Southern Miss.”
Holiday music was performed by the Southern BelleTones, the Afro- American Student Organization gospel choir and Spirit of Southern ensemble.
“We have been rehearsing every Sunday and Tuesday for the past three weeks getting the performance together,” said Anthony Humphries, junior music education major and member of the Afro-American Student Organization gospel choir. “Our gospel songs bring diversity to the event, because it’s something not everybody is exposed to everyday.”
SGA judicial board member Daniel Glover said students enjoyed the activities, and many organizations participated in the event.
“Lighting the Way is a great opportunity for giving back,” Glover said.
A variety of activities for all ages and the holiday spirit brought the community together. The evening was culminated with the lighting of the university tree by interim Vice President for Student Affairs Thomas Burke.