PVC Service Circle Feature: Kendra Simon ’13

On Wednesday, December 7th, the PVC supported Kendra Simon ’13 in implementing her Service Circle event, Teams and Toys. At the event, student-athletes representing nearly all of the 38 varsity athletic teams at Princeton wrapped toys for their “adopted” families, before presenting the families with the gifts at the annual Community House holiday party. Recently, Kendra sat down to discuss the event with us.

View photos from the event here: PVC Service Circle Event – Teams & Toys!

Princeton Varsity Club: Have you been involved with community events around the holidays in the past?

Kendra Simon ’13: I have! I have been involved with Teams & Toys for two years.

PVC: How did you get involved with this event?

KS: I am a leader of Athletes in Action, a Christian ministry on campus that is geared towards athletes. Teams and Toys is Athletes in Action’s big event of the year and it has been a part of the Princeton holiday season for 14 years. Last year, I got the opportunity to help out Kalie Bartholomew ’12, who was the coordinator, and she passed the responsibility on to me.

PVC: Can you describe the event, from preparatory work to gift distribution?

KS: Preparation for the event started last year when we worked to secure the PVC Service Circle grant. However, most of the work happens on or after Thanksgiving break when the athletes are paired with their children. In the last week of the event, there are various details that need attention, like buying the supplies and confirming the venue at Frist Campus Center, and the food order, which Paper Tiger graciously donates. The athletes also have some preparatory work in the week leading up to the event, as they have to raise the money from their teams and purchase the gifts. At the event, everyone has fun wrapping the gifts and enjoying holiday drinks and music.  The gift distribution itself occurs at the Community House Holiday Party at the Carl A. Fields Center, the Sunday after the event from 3-5 pm. The kids from the various Community House programs are invited to a party with games and music and they look forward to this party all year. The party culminates with the gift distribution and every year there are several athletes at the party to oversee this process.

PVC: How would you like to see this event grow in the future?

KS: Currently the varsity teams sponsor 150 kids in total, but I would love to see the numbers of kids that are sponsored in the program grow to 200 or more. I would also love to see the varsity teams take ownership of the Community House Holiday Party. The kids look up to our athletes so much and I would love to see more teams attend, or run the various holiday craft and game stations at the party.

PVC: What’s your favorite part of the event?

KS: My favorite part of the event is the Community House Holiday Party in which the kids receive their gifts. It is so wonderful to see their faces just light up!

PVC: Is there a way for readers to support Teams and Toys?

KS: Yes. If you would like to help out with the event please email me atkmsimon@princeton.edu, I could always use more helpers. Also, Community House would benefit from donations to buy supplies for their myriad of programs that serve underprivileged kids in our community. Target or Wal-Mart gift cards are the best option if you would like to help them out.