On a cold weekday evening, while flakes flew outside, a holiday fiesta was underway at Western’s University Center in Gunnison. Mexican food was on the menu, and lining a long wall behind a Christmas tree, dozens of gifts were stacked in a long row.
The presents were meant for a group of local children from the Gunnison Middle School Latino Boys and Girls Group and were collected by a enthusiastic Western State Colorado University student volunteers from the Amigos Club.
“Each Amigo member was paired up with one of the kids to buy a gift for them,” says Western student Briana Vigil. “The kids tonight were so excited and enthusiastic to receive the gifts and be a part of something on campus. Just the smile on each of their faces was more than I could ever have asked for from tonight's event.” The gifts were donated by Western State Colorado University faculty, staff, students and members of the Gunnison community. Students from the Amigos club cooked up traditional Latin dishes for the feast.
“I was overwhelmed by the generosity, creativity, and enthusiasm for making our middle school Latino students feel special,” Gunnison Middle School teacher Kristina Herrin says. “One of our boys said, 'These gifts are so cool, it's making me blush.'”
The Amigos’ relationship with the students from Gunnison Middle School began when Western student Jesse Cruz and others were looking for ways to bring Latino students to university’s campus to talk about going to college.
“Every kid should have the access and opportunity to improve his or her life,” Briana Vigil says. “We believe it is a great opportunity to reach out to the Hispanic community, especially those who are struggling in some aspects of their lives, particularly school.”
The Amigos are just one of many community service organizations run by Western students.