Muhlenberg Magical Memories sprinkles some enchantment during the COVID-19 crisis

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Kiana Holmes '22 and Peyton Sloan '23 portray Anna and Elsa from Disney's "Frozen" at a local school.

We may all be stuck at home, but this does not stop people from being able to give back to the community! Members of Muhlenberg Magical Memories, Muhlenberg’s character visitation club, have been working hard from their homes to continue doing what they love to do: putting smiles on children’s faces. 

“Typically, we are used to live and in-person visits to local Allentown Elementary Schools and The Casa Guadalupe Center, where we promote literacy by reading stories to students and doing other educational activities,” said Emily Burns ’22, who is treasurer for the club. 

The club was first founded by their current President, Jessica Stier ‘21, in the fall of 2018. They were up and running for visits by spring 2019. As a group, they have grown and expanded their efforts so much since then: they have been on many visits off-campus to local elementary schools, as well as bringing characters to on-campus events such as the Fall Festival and Winter Spectacular. 

“After Muhlenberg switched to online classes, we were eager to develop virtual ways to connect with and spread positivity to our communities during this time,” said Sydney Holliday ‘23, the PR Chair for the club. “We did not want to let the current situation stop us from providing memorable character experiences for children — especially when the world needs joy now more than ever!”

With this goal in mind, upon leaving campus, each member of the Magical Memories Board took costumes home for the purpose of filming videos in character. The videos are interactive and bring everyone’s favorite Disney characters to life, adding some enjoyment to a difficult time. 

One video that Burns made in her backyard features her as Jessie from Toy Story as she teaches the “Cotton-Eyed Joe” dance.

“It felt so good to be able to do something that I knew would put a smile on the kids’ faces, who are likely stressed [and] confused during all of this uncertainty and change,” said Burns.

For each video, members usually get in full costume and character attire and typically record the videos, which are each about a minute long, with a neutral background or outside. They have even started to use Zoom’s virtual background feature, which has been super helpful to create the magic! 

These videos have served a variety of purposes so far, such as healthy habits PSAs for local schools, instructional videos for fun children’s activities to do in quarantine and happy birthday video messages for children who are unable to celebrate under normal circumstances due to COVID-19.

For the birthday videos, the club created a flyer to promote the initiative, designed a Google form to gather information, posted in some local Facebook groups and then they were off and running.

“Since we are a volunteer organization, we are completely happy in creating all of the videos for free — but we do ask that families consider donating to a COVID-19 related cause after receiving the video if they are able,” said Holliday.  

If families are looking for a particular cause to donate to, Magical Memories is currently collecting donations for the children’s education and assisted lunch programs at the Casa Guadalupe Center, which is one of our college’s community partners, in Allentown, PA, where the club visited in costume very often before the pandemic. Many students rely on Casa Guadalupe for a guaranteed meal, so the club is eager to help them remotely any way that they can. Along with every video they send, they include the GoFundMe page for that cause as well.

As of Friday, May 1, the club has completed and sent out fifty videos. So far, they mostly have sent videos within the United States, but they have also recently been receiving requests from the United Kingdom. 

Each video is about a minute long from each character with a personalized birthday message. As of now, the characters offered for videos include Moana, Jessie from Toy Story, Captain Marvel, Princess Leia, Snow White, Alice In Wonderland, Elsa, Anna, Princess Aurora, Belle, Hermione Granger and Wendy from Peter Pan

“Since we are working remotely, we are eager to extend our engagement reach as far as possible, both nationally and even internationally if applicable! We are so happy to be promoting happiness and compassion during this time and are so excited to see what comes next with this initiative,” said Holliday. 

To donate to Casa Guadalupe, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/lunches-for-casa-students?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link-tip&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

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