Monday, December 22, 2008

Police Center Christmas Party

First, I would like to thank all of our many donors and volunteers who made the Christmas Party possible. Without you, we would not be able to reach so, many families. Thank you, for your generous support and hard work.

The winter storm arrived early in the morning as predicted the day of our party. Not only did it throw me off schedule (snow removal needs for the party) but I was well aware it would be an added burden to the families who travel to the Police Center by foot. More than half of the 800+ children who arrived here, walked, were carried or pushed in a stroller. Many, making the journey wearing only sneakers or shoes and with out hats or gloves. The snow caused many of the families scheduled in the morning to wait until afternoon before arriving at the party. This caused the party to run a little longer and the last 3 hours to be very crowded.

We anticipated the change from Polaroid Photos to digital photos would be challenging. The convenience of instantly handing a Polaroid to the family vs taking a digital photo, printing the photos and then reuniting the photo with the correct family was truly missed this year. Our newly, donated, A826 printer worked well all day, running non-stop 11am-6pm. However, our other two all in one printers suffered from paper jams and other technical problems through out the day slowing the printing process to a crawl at times. All day long there was a large swarm of people surrounding my printing volunteers awaiting their photos. Many families left planning to return to the Center another day to pick up their photos. Surely, we will have to work on how we manage family photos at our future events. It may require another A826 or two in order to manage our high volume of photos effectively.

Now that you have read about the challenges of a stormy day Children's Christmas Party, let me share some of the joyful stories. This year we had more volunteers than ever before. Many of our regular faithful volunteers were there to help along with lots of new folks. Having volunteers contact me in advance allowed me to work out a scheduling system I hope to refine even more for next year. Thank you, volunteers : )

Once families arrived at the Police Center they were placed in a line to see Santa, receive a gift, family photo, stuffed animal and a toothbrush. Then parents would sit in chairs through out the room while their children sat on the floor and opened their gifts. Families were treated to numerous snacks and drinks while visiting the Police Center. The Jackman Brothers preformed a magic show for the children. Child Safety IDs were also available to families who wanted them. A volunteer from Florida who assisted us with the party last year brought bags full of hats and mittens this year. She and another friend from Florida walked around putting hats and mittens on children who needed them. We served over 800 children along with their parents.

During the Christmas Party I was busy with many things to ensure the party was going smoothly (especially, the photo printing) and did not capture all the special moments happening around me. I don't like it much when I get too distracted from the children and miss those moments. I was still printing out the photos with Santa after the party, when everyone else had left. As I sat and viewed those photos I saw many beautiful smiles on so many children's faces. As I sat at my desk looking at each family photo, reminiscing about the day, my heart was warmed by the thoughts of how much joy we brought to each of these families. Thank you to all who make our party a success.

Officer Clarke

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