USM sign language students help bring Christmas cheer to deaf children

University of South Mississippi
University of South Mississippi(Andres Fuentes)
Published: Nov. 28, 2021 at 10:57 AM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Bridging the gap between deaf and hearing has always been the De L’Epee Deaf Center’s mission, and it still rings true through the holiday season.

On Saturday, the staff held a Breakfast with Santa, inviting families to come by for Christmas-inspired activates, regardless of if they had hearing challenges or not.

Visitors had their hands full with pancakes, games and even meet & greets with Ariel the Little Mermaid and Ebenezer Scrooge, but the highlight of the morning was when Santa Claus came to visit.

However, St. Nick wasn’t as skilled with American sign language as the group of University of Southern Mississippi students who came down to help with the event. Instead of a traditional final exam, American sign language students could opt in to volunteer at the Breakfast with Santa to help children and their families have a unique holiday experience.

“When (our professor) said get off campus to take the final I said yeah I’ll drive down there and do it. We get to work with the kids firsthand so it’s really cool to see them interact,” junior Meredith Baker said. “Of course I hopped on that. I thought it would be fun to work with children.”

She was one of the students who played games with the children, doing hand signals to explain the rules and congratulate them on a job well done.

“All of us have the same values in wanting to help, in wanting to be with the community,” junior Alexis Rosetti said. “I’ve always been good with people. I’ve always been good with kids, with older people, and I’ve always loved the medical field. So combining that and being able to do the best of both worlds is really really enlightening.”

The students helped sign the children’s Christmas wishes to Santa Claus and even read them holiday stories out loud and through sign language. Students said they were happy to serve the Coast community and bring more attention to what USM has to offer.

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