ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – McMurry has been hosting a very special guest the last two weeks – Willow the Elf. Nick Ochletree, Director of Integrated Communications at McMurry, gave KTAB/KRBC a little insight of Willow’s shenanigans.

“She came to us from very far away, we’re not entirely sure from where, but every morning she likes to run off and hide and then we ask the students to go find her and bring her back to us here at McMurry at the marketing office,” explained Ochletree.

Willow and a former McMurry student came up with the idea to have college students take part in a childhood tradition with a twist. She’s a special elf, immune to human touch, and every day a student will find her on campus and return her to the marketing office for a prize.

“It really ups the engagement for the students here on campus. Gets them excited about something,” said Ochletree. “It’s finals week, so it’s kind of nice to have something fun to do in the morning before you head off to that chemistry final that you maybe didn’t study quite enough for.”

Willow and McMurry understand the holidays can be difficult for students and want to help brighten their day. Babak Akavan, McMurry student, said it has been fun having Willow on campus.

I think that it’s very fun, it’s a very cool event. I get to go collaborate with my friends and just kind of run around campus and try to find this gal,” said Akavan. “For McMurry to be able to do that is really exciting to me. It’s like, some students don’t get to go home for Christmas and stuff like that, so it’s just like a fun little game.”

And as always, McMurry strives to be one of the best home away from homes for the holidays.

“I think it says that the school really cares about the community they have here, and they want to let the students know that they are there for them and they respect them,” Akavan said. “McMurry’s mentality is always focused on the students and the student experience. So, anything that we can do to really make this feel like their second home is important to us.”

Willow has been found hanging out in a Christmas tree, on a fence and many other places on campus. Only time will reveal Willows next stop on her visit at McMurry University.