On Saturday night, I used my KitchenAid stand mixer more times than I’ve used it in the past two years. Since I’ve retired, I’ve found myself with time to do things I couldn’t do before. And one of those things was to volunteer to help at a Christmas party.
And it wasn’t just any Christmas party. On Sunday, for the seventh year in a row, my friend Maureen Cronin, her friend/adopted sister/Wish buddy Kim Brady, and an army of people from every walk of life pulled together for the children, their siblings and parents who have become part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation family.
It took fellow teachers, book club buddies, Backroom waitresses, Central High School Key Club members, UNH Chi Omega sorority volunteers, Wish parents wanting to give back, Lollipop and Cheerio making balloon figures, Seacoast Career School students volunteering chair massages, Granite State Railroad folks running their collectors’ trains for the children to enjoy.
More than 700 parents, grandparents, children and siblings attended the phenomenally festive event. Hosted in the basement of the Jefferson Mill in the city’s historic millyard, the space for the party was donated by Brady-Sullivan Properties.
And in this huge space, which once echoed with the noises of turn-of-the-century textile machines often run by immigrant children who were 12 and even 10 years old, children of the same ages, and younger and older, came, had their faces painted, strung bright beads, colored Frisbees, had their pictures taken in the photo booth, and made pipe cleaner creations.
They and their families feasted on hot dogs, mac and cheese and more. There were sodas and water and eggnog. A chocolate fountain with lots of fresh fruit. There were dozens and dozens and dozens of cookies, mini-whoopie pies, cupcakes, brownies and more. (That’s where my KitchenAid came into play: I made three dozen gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and two dozen gluten-free brownies, to the pleasure of several who cannot eat gluten-ladened foods.)
The Grinch (Make-A-Wish board member and volunteer extraordinaire Frank Tansey) welcomed everyone to the party. (He is pictured above with Kim Brady (l) and Maureen Cronin (r).)
Santa sat to have his picture taken with the kids, as did Miss New Hampshire. There was a DJ who kept the Christmas music coming, interspersed with a little rocking reggae. And the magician who showed us all it was possible to turn two live doves into a live rabbit, and use excited, grateful children as his assistants.
The line grew extremely long over the four-hour party as child after child spun the gift wheel…big prizes, small prizes, but prizes for every one of those wonderful children, those suffering debilitating conditions, and their siblings.
And this party was put on without one cent from the Make-A-Wish Foundation and at absolutely no cost to the families being hosted. All the money donated to the foundation is used for making wishes come true. This event was put on by private donations and volunteers. Even the youngest amongst us, Smyth Road Elementary school students, created all the beautiful decorations of peppermints and giant three dimensional snowflakes that hovered over the expansive space, suggesting a winter snowstorm.
Maureen and Kim would never say this, but I don’t hesitate. If you and your company want to be part of something spectacular, this would be a wonderful place to start. These selfless ladies could certainly use a corporate sponsor.