As we dust off our mittens and winter parkas, order our coffee in holiday-styled cups, and marvel at the giant camels placed along Sheridan Road, we can only know one thing for sure: the holiday season is upon us, and Loyola celebrations are gearing up into full swing.

Kicking off the festivities is the second annual Christmas on Campus, a one-day service event where Loyola students partner up with a child from Chicago Public Schools for a day of holiday fun in Gentile Arena. Individuals and student groups sign up to participate, either to walk around with a child or to set up the activity stations. Last year, about 100 children participated.

Christmas on Campus originated at the University of Dayton almost 50 years ago. Two Loyola juniors learned of this event from a high school teacher in St. Louis who replicated it at their school. Last year, they decided to bring it to Loyola.

Alex Boesch, a junior psychology major, is one of the founders of Loyola’s Christmas on Campus. He says that organizing this event went pretty smoothly, largely due to the number of fellow Loyolans who wanted to help out.

“As soon as we expressed excitement about [Christmas on Campus], resources were laid at our feet,” Boesch says. “[Student] clubs are making up these creative holiday activities, games, and crafts for the kids to enjoy, and they are funding and manning it themselves.”

Boesch says that when students volunteer at Christmas on Campus, they are “making [a] child the center of the world for a few hours.”

Above all, this event allows the entire Loyola community to come together and give back.

“Around the holidays you bring your family together and you come together under the Jesuit ideal of social justice and caring for the full person, the cura personalis. It’s trying to do that by giving someone else a holiday experience,” he says.

Christmas on Campus will take place on December 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Gentile Arena.

Here are a few more holiday events taking place on Loyola’s campuses.

  • The Cuneo Mansion and Gardens Holiday Light Show will shine throughout the Village of Vernon Hills from November 23 to December 31 (except December 24-25). Families can drive through 97 acres of holiday lights while listening to Christmas songs on a local radio station. Admission is $5 per car from Monday through Thursday and $10 per car from Friday through Sunday.
  • The Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) is showcasing a couple of holiday exhibitions. For the fifth year, Art and Faith of the Crèche: The Collection of James and Emilia Govan will display nativity scenes from around the world. This year features 11 new scenes. Also at LUMA is Christmas Greetings: The Graphic Design of Melville P. Steinfels and Margaret Hollahan Steinfels. The couple designed and made their own holiday cards from 1926 until the late 1980s. Visit the LUMA website for more information on the current exhibitions.
  • The Centennial Forum Student Union will light up with the annual tree lighting on Tuesday, December 4, at 5 p.m. A blessing and student group performance will accompany the lighting of the 16-foot tree. Come out and enjoy music and snacks provided by Chicago Chocolate Company.
  • On the first four weekends in December, the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens will host a theatrical rendition of The Velveteen Rabbit, a favorite holiday story written by Margery Williams. Admission for children under 12 is $5, and adults are $7. Attendees who bring an unwrapped gift for Toys for Tots can enjoy a free mug of hot chocolate before the show. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
  • One of Loyola’s most popular events of the year, Joyola!, returns to campus on December 6, at 7:30 p.m., in the Mundelein Auditorium. Come and get in the holiday spirit with student musicians as they perform secular seasonal hits and jazz variations.
  • Come join the community and Loyola’s neighbors for the annual Community Holiday Party on December 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m in Mundelein Center. Community partners and neighbors can come together to celebrate the season as well as collect food items to help support a local food pantry. This year’s celebration will have a theme of sustainability, using reusable dishes and utensils as well as local and eco-friendly catering. More information can be found at the event page, as well as a link to RSVP.
  • The annual University Christmas Luncheon for faculty, staff, and retirees will take place on December 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Gentile Arena. Father Garanzini will host this popular event, which features door prizes, lunch, entertainment, and more.
  • The Midnight Mass at Madonna della Strada Chapel is a Loyola tradition. Starting just before midnight on December 24, attendees can ring in Christmas Day with traditional Christmas carols and a holy feast.

Click here for a full list of holiday events.