By Jerri Whitner, Student Contributor
On Sunday, December 4th, in keeping with what has become a tradition for the campus of Alice Lloyd College, the Christmas Pretties Program and the Voices of Appalachia held their annual dinner and Christmas concert. The Christmas Pretties Program was started by Alice Lloyd’s mother, Ella M. Geddes when they first arrived on Caney Creek. When the program started, its only purpose was to bring joy to a mountain child during the Christmas season by giving them age-appropriate toys and essentials, such as dolls and neckties. Over the years the program has evolved, but its purpose still remains the same. This year around 3,500 “Christmas Pretties” are being given to children in fifteen local schools.
In addition to distributing gifts at local schools, ALC also hosts a dinner in honor of the “Christmas Pretties.” At 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, Dean of Students, Scott Cornett, greeted families and friends who attended the event. Following the Dean of Students, ALC junior John Driskill, a Sports and Fitness major from Jackson, Kentucky, led the group in prayer. After the meal, parents and children joined together in Christmas Carols, as they waited for Santa Claus and even Mrs. Claus to arrive. Arriving on a Pippa Passes fire truck, Santa gave out colorfully wrapped presents with the help of student workers from the ALC Craft Shop. The event was once again a success and because of everyone’s efforts the almost one hundred year tradition lives on.
Later that evening at 7:00 in the Campbell Arts Center, the Voices of Appalachia (VOA) had their annual Christmas concert. Family, friends, community members, students, faculty, and staff made their way into the gold and silver decorated auditorium to hear the Christmas story of Jesus Christ’s birth and listen to a wide variety of Christmas songs. Traditional melodies such as Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and Carol of the Bells were sung, as well as, a few special pieces such as Christ is Born, Child of Bethlehem, and Poor Little Jesus.
Yearly, VOA choir director Richard Bowers enjoys directing the choir through songs written or arranged by VOA’s first choir director, Abner Grender. This year the choir sang Abner Grender’s The Gift of Love. Mr. Bowers also incorporates the area’s Appalachian roots through a shape note hymn, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent, and a song that was written to the tune of an Appalachian folk song, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Every year the Voices of Appalachia and the Christmas Pretties Program makes it their mission to bring holiday joy and cheer to Caney Creek, whether through an enriching musical experience or bringing a smile to local children’s faces.