The holiday season is a time of giving, and this year one area institution – High Point University (HPU) – gave back to the community in ways that touched a large number of lives.

Throughout November and December, High Point University students, faculty and staff led or supported programs to benefit the local community – and in some cases people who live outside of it. Those efforts were part of the 110,000 hours of service – not to mention thousands of dollars – that the HPU family contributes each year to local causes.

One key event this year was the university’s ninth annual “Community Christmas” celebration, which welcomed thousands of visitors to the growing campus and featured Christmas music, decorations and, of course, a visit with Santa Claus – or, much more likely, a visit with a large actor playing the red-suited bearded man.

HPU President Nido Qubein said that every year this is a really spectacular event that makes a lot of people happy at a time of year when they should be happy.

“The joy and sparkle you see in the eyes of these children who come with their families remind us all of the magic HPU’s Community Christmas brings,” Qubein said of the event.

The university president and well-known speaker added that the whole HPU family helps to make the event a success each year.

“We have hundreds of faculty, staff and students who volunteer their time to make this special for the community,” he said.

Over the holidays, High Point University also welcomed 1,000 community members to the James H. and Jesse E. Millis Athletic and Convocation Center for the annual Community Prayer Breakfast.

Qubein said the university tries to emphasize the real meaning of Christmas at its events.

“Christmas is not about Christmas trees, it is not about gifts – it is about remembering that Jesus Christ was born in a manger in Bethlehem,” he said. “Christmas is about how to live, how to love and how to have grace present in our visceral beings.”

Those who attended the university’s Community Prayer Breakfast got to enjoy music provided by local church choirs after an opening carol from the HPU Chapel Choir.

In addition to those events, the university also took part in the “Stuff a Stocking Campaign,” in which students stuffed 750 stockings for the Salvation Army’s annual campaign by that name.

Another program the university took part in was the Angel Tree Program. In that instance, HPU’s Board of Stewards organized several shopping events to purchase more than $17,500 in toys, clothes and necessities for 175 children in the High Point area to support the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program.

HPU also donated gifts to help kids in need that came to the university’s attention through the Guilford County Family Justice Center, and, earlier in the year, HPU raised money to provide Thanksgiving dinners to 100 local families.