By: Marta Rusek
Last night, more than 200 community members enjoyed a night of good food, fun activities, and quality time with Santa Claus at our annual Children’s Holiday Party. Held at the Philadelphia American Red Cross Blood Donation Center, this year’s festivities welcomed families who received relief and emergency shelter from the Red Cross this year after being displaced by home fires and other disasters. All of the families in attendance stayed at the Red Cross House in Philadelphia at some point this year, a facility where families can reside together as they rebuild and plan their next steps after a disaster.
The Red Cross Chapter in Philadelphia received 600 gift donations from Accenture, Arkema, Sparks, PECO Energy, Essity, Girl Scouts of Bucks County, Pansini Mezrow, ARC – Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region, and The Fresh Grocer Supermarkets to give to the children who attended. It took dedicated volunteers from PECO countless hours of their time to wrap the gifts, but it was time well-spent as the children excitedly took in the sight of wall-to-wall presents.
“This party is awesome,” said Joyce Wilkins, whose family lost their home to a house fire earlier this year. “It’s a great way to help families during this time of the year.”
Children were treated to all the delights of the season in one exciting evening, from playing games to making yuletide arts and crafts to decorating gingerbread cookies with chefs from the JNA Institute of Culinary Arts, all while enjoying the catchy Christmas tunes of a DJ. After sitting down to a delectable meal with their parents, which was graciously paid for by Morgan Properties (the macaroni and cheese earned rave reviews throughout the night), the children were thrilled to receive a visit from the one and only Santa Claus! Kids flocked to Santa to share their Christmas wishes and get their pictures taken with him. Our talented Red Cross volunteers were on-hand to photograph the memories and play Santa’s elves.
As the evening unfolded and everyone enjoyed the festivities, volunteers worked tirelessly to create an experience that helped bring joy to families that had all experienced a major loss during the year. “We’re here to offer a little bit of normalcy,” said Guy J. Triano, CEO of the American Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania. “Being able to give gifts and bring holiday cheer to families who have lost everything this year makes our work worth it.”