Happy Holidays Feel-Good News

By Fort Hays State University on December, 15 2020

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Happy Holidays Feel-Good News

This has been one wild sleigh ride into winter break. Who could have prepared for something like COVID-19 taking over all of 2020? Even when I heard the news back in the spring, I never could have imagined the monumental impact it would have on Fort Hays State University and how we have had to adapt to new ways of learning and living. Stressed about schoolwork? Why not throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix! Move over mom jeans; masks are the newest fashion trend on campus. On the bright side, I can say this semester I learned and made history at the same time!

As romantic as it sounds to be living through what will soon be a major chapter in history, I think we’re all ready to close the book on 2020 and welcome in the new year. Winter break brings with it a much-needed rest from a semester-and-a-half of unexpected challenges. I think we all could use the time to regroup and prepare for 2021. That being said, take the time and appreciate that not even a pandemic could ruin your semester. However you spend the holiday season, you’ve earned the right to relax and be thankful.

While it’s easy to focus on all of the hardships of 2020, it wasn’t all bad. It’s definitely worth looking back at all the good this year has brought as well. Every cloud has a silver lining, and here are a few inspiring stories that show how Fort Hays State University has persevered through the pandemic and are sending off 2020 and welcoming in the holidays in a way that would leave even Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch feeling full of Christmas cheer!

A Drive-In STEM-Ed Christmas Show

With many events at Fort Hays State University this year, the theme has been to “convert, don’t cancel.” The annual Christmas show presented by the university’s STEM-Ed Student Chapter is a great example of how this has been put into practice.

Held indoors for the past 17 years, this year’s annual science demonstration, “The Polar Express,” was moved outdoors. The event, which took place on the 5th of December in the west parking lot of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, was modified to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Participants were required to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Location cones were set up for those who watched the show outdoors while people were also able to watch the live video broadcast from their cars. The audio was available at, where the entire event was live-streamed. By hosting a drive-in event, the show carried on, and everyone could safely participate in this annual tradition.

Viewers explored the workings of the Polar Express through the means of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) — how steam powers an engine, how reindeer fly, and how Santa gets all the toys in his bag and powers his sleigh. It was an enjoyable learning experience for both the future mathematics and science teachers of the STEM-ED chapter who hosted the show and those who participated.

Nightingale Living Learning Community

Along with everyone else, Fort Hays nursing students are also in the spirit of the holidays. The students who are part of the Nightingale Living Learning Community decided they wanted to give back this holiday season. At the beginning of December, they gathered together to put together gifts for a local nursing home. All together, they packed 48 presents for the residents, who were surely overjoyed to be getting them.

Keeping Alive the Toy-Building Tradition

Every year, Fort Hays State University holds its annual Dr. Fred P. Ruda Teaming Up for Tots (TUFT) Day. Volunteers of all ages from the university and the Hays community would converge in the Center for Applied Technology to help build wooden toys to be delivered to the local TUFT organization and distributed in time for Christmas. The project aims to provide toys for children who otherwise might not receive a Christmas gift.

The TUFT project has been going strong since 1990, but this year the event was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. While it is disheartening that the whole university and community could not participate in the project as usual the students and faculty in the Department of Applied Technology at Fort Hays State University have found a way to keep the tradition alive and fulfill the annual donation. The decision was to have the students in FHSU’s chapter of the Technology and Engineering Education Collegiate Association (TEECA) construct the toys the first week of December.

As in years past, the Materials, Processes and Production class taught by Dr. Duane Renfrow, associate professor of applied technology, designed and cut the pieces for a wooden pick-up truck and created instructions to guide the assembly process. The TEECA students then assembled the toy trucks. Over 200 wooden toys were donated to TUFT this year. It goes to show that not even a global pandemic can get in the way of giving.

Holiday Toy Drive at Breathe Coffee House

Tigers In Service, the United Methodist Student Organization, and Breathe Coffee House all joined together to host a holiday toy drive for Teaming Up For Tots (TUFT). Toys and other items could be dropped off at Breathe Coffee House until December 10th to be donated to the local TUFT organization. A special event was also hosted on Saturday, December 5th, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. where people could bring a gift in exchange for a free coffee. This hearty dose of coffee, conversation, and contribution brought our community together and will help make children’s Christmas dreams come true this winter.

Spreading Holiday Cheer to Via Christi Village

Quarantine hasn’t been easy for anyone. While we may not be able to meet in person, no one should have to feel alone this winter. All it takes is a little note to let someone know you’re thinking about them this holiday season. The students at Fort Hays State University know this, which is why they decided to spread some holiday cheer through a thoughtful craft project. The FHSU National Honors Society and the Ceramic Club teamed up in designing and making fifty holiday cards for the residents of the Ascension Living Via Christi Village retirement home in Hays. The FHSU Softball team also participated by making little clay bluebirds to go with the cards. Tigers In Service delivered the creations. Let this inspire you to get crafty and make your own gifts for loved ones this year. Nothing is as touching and personal as a hand-made gift.

Fort Hays State University


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