The holidays will be much brighter for several Cross Timbers area children thanks to Tarleton State University’s Lil Texan & TexAnn Angel Tree project.

This year’s project, an effort coordinated by Tarleton’s Office of Student Engagement and Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, will provide more than 900 gifts to 153 area children during the Christmas season. The Lil Texan & TexAnn Angel Tree project partners with housing authorities in Dublin, Gorman and De Leon to supply gifts to children ages 2 months to 18 years.

“The Angel Tree project is a great way for Tarleton students and others within the campus community to come together and get into the season of giving,” said Landry Underwood, assistant director of Tarleton’s fraternity and sorority life. “Christmas morning will be a little bit happier for the kids who receive these gifts.”

Since 1995, students, student organizations, Tarleton faculty and staff “adopt” a child or several children each November from the Christmas tree in the Barry B. Thompson Student Center.

“We begin collecting gift donations the week before Thanksgiving break and, this year, all 153 children were adopted in just a few days. The great response from our students and the Tarleton community is amazing,” she said.

Harlan Smith, a junior ag services and development major from Waxahachie, Texas, and member of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, said this is the fourth year the Greek organization has co-sponsored the Lil Texan & TexAnn Angel Tree project.

“Our fraternity prides itself on participating in community service efforts, and it’s great to see our brothers and Tarleton students come together to provide hundreds of gifts for those in need,” Smith said. “Everyone who supported the project did an excellent job donating and collecting gifts. Many realize how very blessed they are and want to bring a smile to those less fortunate.”

Alpha Gamma Rho members gathered at the Thompson Student Center on Dec. 16, to load the gifts into a box truck for distribution.

“The student response this year was remarkable,” said Darrell Brown, executive director of student engagement at Tarleton, “and university faculty and staff are always great supporters of our Angel Tree. While many students have left campus for winter break, it’s great that Alpha Gamma Rho and several student leaders stayed behind to oversee this effort and make sure these children have a happy Christmas.”