The center of Capital University's Bexley campus shone bright last week with the soft glow of candlelight and pristine brilliance of a newly decorated Christmas tree as caroling, celebration of service, and a strong sense of community ushered in the holiday season.
About 300 students, faculty, staff, families and friends convened Tuesday night on the plaza for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and reception with special guest Santa Claus. Meticulously blended voices of students in Capital's a cappella ensemble Philomel set a joyful tone to the celebration with its performances of This Little Light of Mine, arranged by Moses Hogan, and Repeat the Sounding Joy, arranged by Capital's own Craig Courtney.
As people braced themselves against the evening chill, heating their hands on cups of hot spiced cider and hot chocolate, their spirits were warmed by a sense of accomplishment for their good work on behalf of people in need.
In just one semester, 450 students contributed more than 3,000 hours of service to various projects and collected 125 coats, along with blankets, linens and other clothing items, which were donate to The Open Shelter, a grassroots organization that provides emergency shelter, food, clothing and other essentials to Central Ohio's homeless population.
"When an institution like Capital collaborates with community organizations and social service agencies that share our values, our sense of social responsibility, and our commitment to the common good, we create partnerships that have real potential to change individuals, neighborhoods, communities, even the world," Bowman said.
Bethanie Yoder, student coordinator of the ceremony, which is organized by Student and Community Engagement, and Becca Mowad, of the Residence Hall Association, presented The Open Shelter's Harry Yeprem Jr., development director, a certificate recognizing the organization as a partner in service.
Following the formal presentation and a countdown, Bowman and Santa Claus flipped the switch and illuminated Capital's Christmas tree for the first time this year. Moments later, Philomel led the community in a singalong of Silent Night as, one-by-one, candies were lit to signify the light our academic community has to offer and to represent the shining moments that occur because of Capital University every day — on campus and around the world — wherever members of the Cap Family live, work and contribute positively to their communities.
The scene was captured on video and will become the focal point of the University's electronic Christmas card this year. The evening concluded with a reception in Schneider Multipurpose Room, where guests enjoyed refreshments and fellowship, decorated Christmas cookies and had their pictures taken with Santa.