DALLAS — Christmas arrived a few days early for youngsters at the Eban Village Apartments.
SMU student John Nwisienyi and his Psi Phi fraternity brothers volunteer their time every week through the Dallas Community Lighthouse. This week, they played Santa's helpers, handing out gifts.
During the rest of the school year, they act as tutors, mentors and role models to disadvantaged children. "If the kids need someone to talk to, hear about their problems every day; sometimes they don't have somebody that cares," Nwisienyi said. "We try to fill that void of caring for them on a consistent basis. Being there for them is probably one of our biggest issues."
The fraternity brothers volunteer about 270 hours per year. They organized a holiday party for the kids, and even brought in a magician.
But the SMU students say there's no trick to what they do — they're there for the kids.
"Just having someone that's in a similar age range to also be a light for them and be an example to look up to," said volunteer Jon Killen. "You know — when you have role models that are older and stuff than their parents, or teachers, they may not be able to connect, so having someone fill that void is very important."