LANCASTER – Christmas came early for more than one thousand local children from households with limited income.
The kids received presents, visited with Santa, sang along to Christmas carols, and enjoyed cookies and soda Monday afternoon, as part of Grace Resource Center’s Graceful Christmas party.
“For a lot of these kids, this will be the only new toy that they get this year, so it’s important,” said Special Events Coordinator Lynda Elmes, adding that it’s the second year the center has hosted the event.
“It’s obvious why it’s important for the kids, but what’s really important is we couldn’t do it without the support of the community,” said Grace Resources Director Steve Baker.
Dozens of entities, including the fire department, the boy scouts, several local churches, and private businesses, donated toys to ensure that each of the 1,200 children at the party would take home a toy, Baker said.
The line stretched around the block as families patiently waited to get into the toy room, where every child under 12 picked out a new toy.
The party, which went from 2 to 5 p.m., also featured a sing along to holiday classics with the Crown Valley Church of Acton and face painting, courtesy of the Antelope Valley community queens.
“I’m painting kids’ faces with a snowman, snowflakes, Santa hats, just whatever they want to bring them some Christmas cheer,” said Miss Antelope Valley Shannon Gonzales. “It’s a good way for us to get involved and learn what the Christmas spirit is really all about.”
Several volunteers from local service organizations also helped the children with arts and crafts. John Keith from Paving the Way Foundation showed a handful of children how to create the perfect chalk mural.
“I’m just here to keep their spirits up high,” Keith said, adding that the party was especially important to families facing financial difficulties this season.
“They don’t have the finances to be able to give their kids a Christmas that they would like, so this is another avenue for them to be able to enjoy Christmas, get into the holiday spirit, and forgot about their economic situation for a while,” Keith said.