a Christmas party
The East Orange, N.J., Corps and its afterschool program participants enjoyed a Christmas Party organized by the Territorial Youth Department on Friday, December 5th. Instead of hosting a celebration for themselves, Youth Department personnel staged an evening at the corps with holiday–themed carnival. Kids enjoyed games, music, contests, and delicious food under the theme, “I’ll Fight” (words from William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, regarding his commitment to save souls).
Jennifer Garrett, youth department business assistant, said, “We are so happy we did this instead of just having our own Christmas party. One of the young girls said to our staff, ‘This is the best day ever! It’s like Christmas but it’s not Christmas!’”
Major Kim D’Amaro, territorial Christian education director, who hosted a “Pass the Gift” carnival game (a Christmas–themed version of Hot Potato) said, “We had a wonderful time. We were incredibly blessed with the opportunity to minister to the children and to their families, and we pray that the kids felt loved and found a place at The Salvation Army.”
Major Christina Ramirez, divisional women’s ministries secretary for the New Jersey Division, said that the community response was overwhelming, but it was handled so well, everyone had a great time. “We are so thankful for the participation of the Territorial Youth Department at the ‘I’ll Fight Christmas Party,’” she said.
The program has been a benefit to the corps already, said Major Ramirez. “A new family has begun to attend church on Sundays as a result of a conversation we had with them at the party. Three new children (one family) have signed up for the afterschool program. When we held our holiday food and toy distribution, several people commented that they were thankful for the party.”
“The seeds planted by this ministry outreach are already taking root. We are so excited as we observe God’s faithfulness and ponder the possibilities for the Orange Corps!” said Major Ramirez.
Upon arriving at the corps that evening, about 50 kids from the afterschool program discovered that their large stage room now had tables equipped with ring toss, guessing games, and crafts.
The children knocked over “Snow Walls” and built towers and igloos from marshmallows and toothpicks.
Everyone guessed the number of candies in jars, made snowflake tree ornaments, and decorated holiday jewelry. The fun stopped momentarily for a group dance break, where every child and adult rushed to the center of the room to enjoy the funky sounds of the ‘Cha–Cha Slide.’
Like any good carnival celebration, there were also plenty of delicious treats. The kids enjoyed hot dogs, potato chips, and hot cocoa with marshmallows. Even dessert was a fun game, as everyone decorated Christmas cookies in a festive way with frosting, candies, and colored sugar.
When the meal was over, children returned to the “Christmas Room” for more fun. Tug-of-war, stilts races, ‘Belly Bumper’ competitions, and an indoor snowball fight, using extra large marshmallows, concluded the celebration.
Every child also took home Christmas storybooks from The Salvation Army.
by Hugo Bravo