December 16, 2020

The Night Before Christmas Virtual Readings by WCU Alumni Sends Ho-Ho Happiness to Children Needing Holiday Magic

Holiday Readings by WCU AlumniReadings from the Lifetime Collection of The Night Before Christmas Books Donated by WCU’s Barbara Loftus Perrone ’56  

When the Grinch of Covid-19 stole their annual in-person Evening with Santa series, West Chester University’s Office of Alumni Engagement wished upon a purple/gold star and coordinated its alumni in a series of virtual, holiday readings for children from a special lifetime collection of 400+ The Night Before Christmas books gifted to WCU’s Francis Harvey Green Library by alumna Barbara Loftus Perrone ’56 in honor of her late husband, Charles C. Perrone ’50. The virtual holiday-storytelling series features alumni elves, donned in Santa caps and winter scarves, using their best storytelling voices to relay tales about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and more; one reading is also done in Spanish. In addition to providing ho-ho happiness for children of WCU alumni, the link is being shared with children at CHOP, Easter Seals of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, the Chester County Down Syndrome Interest Group, and others in order to spread holiday cheer this season. Each link is also accompanied by coloring pages that can be downloaded for more festive fun. The holiday link may be accessed here

The entire Perrone Collection features unique visual re-creations and interpretations of the poem by illustrators from throughout the world. Barbara is a former school librarian and Charles was a retired teacher and administrator in the West Chester Area School District. Enjoying a lifetime hobby of book collecting, Barbara amassed a large collection of the enchanting poem which can be found catalogued in WCU Special Collections in Francis Harvey Green Library.  In 2006, Barbara established an endowment to ensure that The Night Before Christmas Collection continues to grow with new and rare out of print illustrated editions.

The Perrones and their three children are all graduates of West Chester and daughter, Susan Perrone Walthall ’79, M’89, is one of the featured storytellers in the virtual holiday readings produced by the Office of Alumni Engagement.

“This year has been like none other, so we wanted to do something extra special for the children of our alumni, as well as many other children who need some holiday magic this season,” said Brigid Gallagher, assistant director of alumni engagement. “The Office of Alumni Engagement typically offers an Evening with Santa and Sensory-friendly Evening with Santa. With the need to actively practice social-distancing, our plans had to change. We couldn’t think of a better way to make the holidays brighter for a greater number of children than by gathering our alumni to read from our very own Perrone Collection. ‘Tis the season for giving and sharing.”

The following is a complete list of schools and organizations that received the Office of Alumni Engagement’ virtual holiday readings:

  • A.I. Dupont Children’s Hospital
  • Brandywine River Museum
  • Camp Sunshine (A retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families)
  • Cardinal Foley Catholic School
  • Chester County Downs Syndrome Organization
  • Chester County Family Academy
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
  • Easter Seals of Southeastern Pennsylvania
  • Gulph Elementary School 
  • HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy
  • Colman-John Neumann Catholic School
  • YMCA of Greater Brandywine

Click for Virtual Readings by WCU Alumni

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