Kitts family opens their home for the holidays

President Kenneth Kitts and his family celebrate their first holiday season at UNA in 2015. This year, the Kitts family is extending their home to the UNA faculty, staff and their families for the first annual Santa Party.

Despite Christmas break beginning Dec. 21, the elves at UNA are already preparing for the holiday season with the first annual Santa Party.

UNA President Kenneth Kitts and his family are extending their home as a way of giving back to the UNA faculty and staff, said Dena Kitts, President Kitts’s wife.

“This event is about honoring families, being together and creating memories,” she said. “I hope to look out on the front lawn the afternoon of Dec. 6 and see happy children running around and squealing with holiday delight.”

The event will take place from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the president’s house and is open to all UNA faculty, staff and their children.

She said the idea for the Santa Party began as a way to say “thank you” to all of the UNA faculty and staff for their hard work at UNA.

Kitts said this event is unique to the campus because most events on campus are not child-friendly.

“When my husband was hired, UNA got something relatively unique to the higher education landscape: a first family with two little boys who are growing up on a college campus,” she said. “We place high priority on family, and so many of our faculty and staff have young children, so this event is the perfect blend of those two sentiments.”

The President’s Office is funding this event. Kitts said they eliminated a party the president’s office typically hosts in the summer to repurpose the money for the Santa Party.

Junior Suzanne Berry said this event will promote the “home atmosphere” of the campus.

“It’s important to let every family here know that they do matter,” Berry said. “UNA is a family and has a bond that cannot be broken.”

Kitts said this event will include holiday crafts, sugar cookie decorating, face painting and pictures with Santa.

The LaGrange Society, College of Education and Human Sciences student ambassadors and the UNA cheerleaders are volunteering to help with this event.

Kitts said planning for this event began early in the semester, but she said she looked ahead to funding the event beginning fall 2016.

Berry said she hopes this event will be a tradition so faculty and staff know how much the university appreciates them and their families.