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Christmas with Berrien Springs Neighbors

Date: December 7, 2011

Andrews University students, staff and faculty helped kick off the Christmas season with our neighbors in Berrien Springs at the town’s annual Downtown Open House, “Kindle Your Christmas Spirit.” This event offers members of the Berrien Springs community a chance to gather for an evening of festive fun with something for everyone. An estimated 700 members of the community filled the streets of downtown Berrien Springs to enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, Christmas crafts for kids and a chance to see inside many businesses.

Since the first Downtown Open House held five years ago, members of the Andrews University Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Club have offered face painting. Student volunteers don Santa hats and decorate hundreds of small rosy cheeks with snowflakes, Christmas trees and stars, to name a few. This year, nearly 300 children enjoyed the free painting.

Ann Gibson, co-sponsor of SIFE, says, “Because of our continued involvement, we now have community members seeking us out at the ‘Kindle the Christmas Spirit’ event because they have enjoyed the interaction between the SIFE students and their children in the past.” 

Andrews student Leslie Harris drew Santa hats on the face of four-year-old Keira.
(Photo by IMC photographer Austin Ho)

Each year, Andrews’ participation has grown. This year, the Office of Integrated Marketing & Communication shared building space with the SIFE team. Andrews volunteers assisted children in making a Christmas garland to hang on the town’s Christmas tree located in Memorial Park. The children also made pinecone bird feeder ornaments to hang on the tree. “Everyone enjoyed sharing a cheery warm cup of Rosy Glow tea—a specialty from our own Dining Services—compliments of Andrews University,” says Rebecca May, director of campus relations and events at Andrews University.

The Easter Passion Play team found a creative way to bring the story of Jesus to life through a Live Nativity. Two Andrews students, Amarilis Rodriguez and Heber Garcia, were dressed as Mary and Joseph while sitting in a makeshift stable surrounded by a baby cow, chickens, sheep and even a miniature horse. Young and old alike enjoyed petting the animals and the Live Nativity was a fitting way for the Easter Passion Play team to participate in the event.

“Andrews is blessed to be part of a community that values bringing people together,” says José Bourget, a chaplain in the Office of Campus Ministries and producer for the Easter Passion Play. “Through the various festivities that each season brings, it’s great to see Berrien Springs—our hometown—come together especially now to celebrate peace, unity and goodwill to all men.”

Andrews shares an interesting tie with The Journal Era, the town’s newspaper and one
of the organizers behind the event: Andrews (then known as Battle Creek College) and
The Journal Era, were both founded in 1874. (Photo by IMC photographer Austin Ho)

Andrews University also provided pencils to Santa, who then handed them out to the children who came to share their wish list with him.

“It is our privilege to link arms with our little village on various community events and special occasions. Although there are dozens of resources available to the community on our campus, relationships are best built through personal contacts, not general invitations. We hope and pray that the influence of Andrews University in Berrien Springs will enrich the community we call home, in ways both large and small,” says May.

Andrews University is a Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher education
Phone: 1-800-253-2874     Email:
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Berrien Springs, Michigan 49104