Duke Law community hosts celebration at Children's Hospital

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Duke Law School will host its second annual holiday party at Duke Children's Hospital December 10. Last year's festivities drew more than 50 staff and student volunteers and an estimated 150-200 children, and a similar turnout is expected this year.

The party comes at one of the busiest times of the year for the Duke Law Community, but Student Affairs Coordinator Shanda King says this is partly intentional. "We understand that the demands of exams and the approaching holidays make this one of the most stressful times of the year for our students. The Holiday Party gives students and others an opportunity to brighten the lives of the children being treated at the hospital and gain a sense of perspective," said King.

Santa and his elves
Santa and his "elves"
3Ls Mike Koenig, Sarah Davis, and Fon Walker join Professor David Lange and Kim Burrucker, Coordinator of Public Interest and Pro Bono at the 2002 Holiday Party.

Law School departments and student groups will transform the hospital lobby into a winter wonderland with crafts and games and provide patients with a much-needed distraction from their medical treatments. Drawing upon the success of last year's event, the party will again feature pin-the-nose-on-Rudolph, carolers, winter BINGO, sand necklaces, and a new addition, "ice" fishing. Thanks to a repeat donation from the Washington Duke Inn, their bakers will recreate the messy Gingerbread Land that attracted little cookie decorators with its array of frostings and sprinkles last year.

Law professor-turned-Santa David Lange was the unquestionable highlight of last year's event, and this year Santa will make a return appearance with Mrs. Claus, Nancy Cheek, an administrator in Dean Katharine Bartlett's office. Thanks to the efforts of third-year law student Fon Walker, this year Santa's sack will be filled with adorable stuffed animals solicited from toy companies.

"The selflessness these children showed last year motivated me to gather donations from toy stores,” said Walker. “Last year some of the parents shared their children's letters to Santa, and they were filled with wishes to ease their parents' burden and their physical pain. There were only a couple that asked for toys, and of those, most only asked for one toy. These children have gone through so much, and since they are so far away from home, I know that this gift will help take their minds off the hospital experience."

Walker's efforts were rewarded when she turned to Duke Law alumnus Chris Kay '78, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Toys R Us. He arranged for three large Toys R Us boxes to be delivered to the Law School, full of toys waiting for distribution by Santa.

"As soon as I talked to Mr. Kay and told him what was going on and what I wanted, he didn't hesitate. Toys R Us ended up donating more than $700 worth of stuffed animals."

For more information or volunteer opportunities, please contact Shanda King at , 919-613-7007.