StuGo Smiles in the midst of a pandemic 

Freshman Samuel Spencer, Senior Aubrey Clouse, and Junior Maddy Jex work together to wrap gifts. These festive presents will be gifted to low-income students.

Perry’s student government, “StuGo Smiles” event has a reputation for its efforts to ensure low-income students a good holiday experience. StuGo holds various community service events and fundraisers throughout the year but the winter event, “StuGo Smiles”, is one of the most successful and rewarding. This year, however, this reputable event has to be held in a different manner, to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. 

Usually the StuGo members spend time with elementary school students, opening gifts and creating an enriching experience for everyone. StuGo students, some of whom come from low-income families, spend time just being kids. Advisor Lerina Johnson explains, “We’ll have snow, we’ll bring snow in, bring in a petting zoo, inflatables. We’ll invite the kids to the school and take the field and set up a whole day of fun and we pair them up with a big brother and big sister and they’re only goal is to make that kids day.”

In order to lower the chance of spreading COVID-19, StuGo has come up with an innovative way to continue the annual tradition. The students will still be receiving gifts, hand-wrapped by the StuGo students, but this year they will be accompanied by videos, recorded by students. 

Both the younger students and the high-schoolers love and look forward to this event, and there is a universal disappointment surrounding this year’s limitations. Junior Sammy Cristerna, who is the Community Service Liaison, when questioned about how he felt said, “Kind of a little bit bummed, however we all kind of understand that this year is a little bit different, but in the end we’re still trying to kind of make an impact some way or another.” 

This event is well known at the school for the impact it has. Bridget Pitts, the Spirit Coordinator says, “It’s super, like gratifying knowing that I’m giving back to the little kids and making their day cause I know it’s harder for them, and they don’t really get to look forward to presents like that.” The younger students are influenced by this event and express their gratitude to the hosts every year.Cristerna says, “A lot of times they write back to us, about the experience and some of these letters are really truely close to our hearts,and it really does make an impact on their lives.”

 Some of the students who attend this event live with the uncertainty of whether or not holiday gifts are a guarantee. Children in a low-income family can leave their worries behind temporarily and reconcile their adolescent ways and just be kids having fun. 

StuGo is actively working to make sure that the students are still able to have a good time amidst the chaos of the current year. At this time the safest option is having the StuGo members record videos giving their best wishes. Although this event is not the same as usual, StuGo is still giving the kids an experience they are not soon to forget.