Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Louisville Red Cross Hosts 29th Annual Holiday Party

Santa will be arriving a few days early in Louisville this year for the holidays—on a fire truck. He and Mrs. Claus will be stopping by the American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter building to greet children and pass out presents for the 29th Annual Holiday Party.

The party is held every year for Kentuckiana children whose homes have been lost or severely damaged to fires. The auditorium is decorated with snowflakes and garland and turned into a winter wonderland. The room where we host health and safety training is turned into a welcome area, where kids and their families can enjoy pizza, games, and crafts: the only reindeer might be ones the kids make out of candy canes, but the magic is no less real when the kids head upstairs to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus and receive their presents.

The people who work behind the scenes work their own kind of magic to make sure that everything runs smoothly during the festivities. The fire engine Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on is provided by the Louisville Professional Firefighters Union Local 345, which sponsors the party every year and purchases the toys for the children. The party itself would not come together every year without the work of Kim Jackson, who works in disaster services, and her team of 30 volunteers.

Kim and her team are the ones who decorate the auditorium and organize the presents the kids will receive at the party. They spend a morning with area firefighters before the party, shopping for gifts for nearly 150 children, and then spend the afternoon sorting through all of them so that each child will have a bag of toys when Santa arrives. Once the party is in full swing, the volunteers are busy helping the children with crafts, painting faces, guiding them upstairs, and helping families take their gifts back to their cars when the party ends.

Over 120 children and their families will attend the Holiday Party this year. With nearly 25 home fires every month, the Louisville Area Chapter provides fire victims with assistance for food, clothing, temporary shelter, and other needs families might have. It is because of the support of people like Kim and her volunteers, and the firefighters of the Local 345 Union, that the Red Cross can provide these services and give Santa the chance to come early for these families.

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