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Tree lighting ceremony and homemade cookies for students usher in season at Evangel

November 26, 2012 | Valorie Coleman

The lobby of Evangel University’s administration building was looking more like Christmas by the minute. The 20-foot tree was assembled last week, and two dedicated women were meticulously placing the ribbon, one elaborate bow at a time, in a swirling pattern around its circumference.

Who were Santa’s helpers? Meet Connie Benton, Evangel’s director of postal services, and Dinah Parker, post office staff member. Benton has worked at Evangel for 24 years. Her decorating skills have emerged as an integral part of her service to the university. Her eye for design and décor has been put to work during many homecoming and Christmas celebrations.

Parker joined Benton on Evangel decorating projects before she even came to work for the university in 2007. The two knew each other from church and had worked on projects there.

Their intention is not simply to beautify the campus, nor is their work done out of duty.

Their efforts come from the heart.

“When I was little, we didn’t have much,” Parker says. “My mother would wait until Christmas Eve to decorate. She saved items all year to make handmade decorations, including the foil out of cigarette packs to make hand-strung garland. Mom also liked glitter. She would write our names in glitter on our packages.”

On Christmas Eve, Parker’s mother would stay up all night, turning their home into a magical Christmas scene, and wrapping each child’s one present.

“The next morning, it would look like a Christmas fantasy land,” Parker says. “That was as much a part of the gift my mom gave us as the actual presents.”

The students, staff and faculty of Evangel will celebrate with a tree lighting ceremony on November 27. The staff of Riggs Hall will bake cookies to offer the students, and they will enjoy a chance to mix and mingle. Everyone will notice a bit of glitter in the decorations.

“We really do want to do something special for the students,” Benton says. “This is our way of saying we appreciate you.”

— Valorie Coleman, assistant director of public relations, Evangel University

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