December 18, 2020

Husky Holidays

By Robert Dunkelberger, Bloomsburg University Archivist and Historian

With December comes Christmas and the holiday season, one which the University and its students have celebrated in many ways over the years. By the 1940s, the major event was a yearly party held for physically challenged children being treated at Danville’s Geisinger Hospital. The students at the school, then called the Bloomsburg State Teachers College, provided the youngsters with gifts and entertainment.

The eleventh and final Crippled Children’s Party was held in 1940, but it wasn’t the only holiday activity. In addition, food was collected for local needy families, carols sung at concerts and assemblies, and dinners held for students and faculty at the dining room in the Waller Hall dormitory.

This all changed with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States entry into the Second World War. For Christmas 1942, with most men in the service the student body was comprised almost entirely of women. But those men were not forgotten and many wrote letters home which were published in the school paper. That same year, the college increased enrollment by hosting a training program for United States Navy flight instructors. The following year officer cadets were added.

1943

The trainees provided a different dynamic to the holiday celebrations of the past. In 1943, they were entertained by the Bell Telephone Company on the night of December 17, an activity attended by a total of 450 participants. The old gymnasium featured a decorated Christmas tree with a gift for each man, refreshments, and dancing to a Navy orchestra.

 

1947

Once the war ended and the military left in October 1945, college life got back to normal. The main holiday tradition in the post-war era, in addition to food and singing, was for students to collect toys for needy area children. In 1947, the Day Men and Women and the Dormitory Men and Women asked their members for either a cash contribution or a gift to help make Christmas brighter for 50 children up to the age of 15.

 

1949

In 1949, two more groups, the Waller Hall Association and the Student Christian Association, worked together to coordinate what was called the “Kids’ Christmas” project. It involved the student body gathering gifts for needy children, with names and ages being provided by the Red Cross, Child Welfare, and the Salvation Army. All the toys were later put on display in the Waller Hall lobby.

 

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