By Ellie Schuckman
Walking up to Loser Hall Lawn, people could hear music blasting in the distance. The sun shines bright from above as the sound of high-pitched laughter echoes and a bouncy house gently sways while children jump inside — Kids Day Out has officially kicked off.
Alpha Phi Omega’s sixth annual community service event geared toward benefitting local, disadvantaged children, took place on Sunday, April 2.
“For many of the kids, they’re living in situations of homelessness or extreme hardships, so it’ll be they’re only meal of the day,” said Kate Bailey, service vice president of APO and a sophomore international studies major.
The all-day event began in Roscoe West Hall with a catered lunch and then moved to the Business Building where participants made crafts and could have their faces painted. Afterwards, the kids moved to Loser Hall Lawn for carnival-style games.
Roughly 40 kids were brought in from HomeFront — an organization devoted to helping Central New Jersey families who struggle with poverty and homelessness — for the event, according to Bailey.
“The kids from HomeFront look forward to this every year, which is a really nice thing to have for them,” said Joanna Felsenstein, a fifth-year special education graduate student. “It’s like a day off for them, which is great.”
The campus-wide event allowed the children to take their minds off their everyday struggles.
“When you’re homeless, you’re thinking about so many other things,” Felsenstein said. “A lot of individuals who deal with homelessness are also dealing with economic issues at that time. To have just a day of fun is something very important. Be a little less responsible for a day, worry less and just participate in something fun.”
The participants were split into groups of roughly six individuals, with at least two APO members guiding them around campus, according to Felsenstein.
“Although our campus can be some type of a bubble, outside of our campus doors there’s a lot of people facing hardships,” Bailey said. “I think that sometimes we see TCNJ as our bubble, so it’s really good for us to be involved.”
Other campus organizations that helped sponsor the event included Delta Sigma Pi, Theta Phi Alpha, Alpha Xi Delta, Beta Theta Pi and Secondary Education Teacher’s Association.
“I’m really happy that a lot of other organizations wanted to get involved and that means a lot to us,” Bailey said.
For APO members themselves, the event symbolized being able to support those less fortunate than them.
“I think it’s a good way to give back in a sense because we are doing this for the kids,” said Riana Joseph, a freshman biology major. “I think it’s a great representation of not just APO, but TCNJ as a whole that we’re doing this big event for the kids.”