Santa’s Village worker remembers first time volunteering at event

Santa’s Village worker remembers first time volunteering at event
Santa’s Village worker remembers first time volunteering at event | Santa’s Village worker remembers first time volunteering at event
Melissa Goodman of Fulton remembers a time when almost everything at Santa’s Village was white.
The annual fund-raising event held at the Ned McWherter Agricultural Complex on the University of Tennessee at Martin campus has been an area tradition for 26 years. While raising thousands of dollars for the local needy, the holiday wonderland setting, countless vendors and sleigh rides have also brought thousands of visitors to enjoy the massive Christmas celebration.
Mrs. Goodman has experienced first hand the benefits that Santa’s Village provides, even to those behind the scenes. When she was a freshman at UT Martin in 1997, she volunteered for the event, initially to get extra credit for an agriculture class. (See related photo, Page 2.)
“I had been to Santa’s Village as a child and, at that time, I didn’t realize how many people it took to organize and set up the event. That was back when they had all the tree limbs and things painted white. I was helping to bring those in and brush them white,” she said.
That was before her true value to the village was discovered.
“When they found out that I could make bows, I spent the rest of the time making bows,” Mrs. Goodman said, laughing.
She added that she had initially learned bow-making from a floral design class in high school.
Bow after bow of Mrs. Goodman’s seven-loop design was hung around the arena, adding to the holiday atmosphere that would brighten the days of thousands of guests.
“There was a lot of work that went into creating the child’s fantasy. It’s something fun that everyone looks forward to, but it’s also a great cause because it provides for those that need help during the holiday season. It’s a win-win,” Mrs. Goodman said.
Ironically, all of that bow-tying practice would come in handy for Mrs. Goodman later in life. She began her collegiate career as an ag education major, but graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science and now works for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service as a extension agent for family and consumer sciences in Fulton and Hickman counties in Kentucky.
Although she is also able to use her agriculture background to relate to the large agriculture industry in the two counties, part of Mrs. Goodman’s job also involves crafting through cultural arts education to involve clientele.
“That kind of stuff comes in handy. I work with homemakers now and I do crafts with senior adults in the community, as well as 4-H students,” she said. “Every step that I’ve taken, whether I understood it at that point or not, has influenced who I have become. All of that has given me the knowledge to help me help my clientele.”
These days, Mrs. Goodman entertains Santa’s Village patrons on her own time and not for extra credit. She has returned to Santa’s Village for the past two years to make balloon animals for children and she will be back again this year.
Mrs. Goodman now lives in Fulton with her husband, Stephen, whom, coincidentally, she met in that first freshman agriculture class, and her two sons, Ezekiel and Elijah.
Santa’s Village is set for 6-9 p.m. Dec. 8-9; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 10; and 1-5 p.m. Dec. 11. It will be held at the Ned McWherter Agricultural Complex on the UT Martin campus.
Admission is free, but there is a suggested donation of $5 worth of canned goods or toys, which will be given to agencies which help less fortunate families throughout the area at Christmas.
Published in The Messenger 12.1.11

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