Posted: Saturday, December 8th 2012 at 4:10pm
'Making spirits bright' at Good News party
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – Santa Claus personally greeted wide-eyed children and wide-grinning parents as they climbed off the buses outside the cafeteria at Lakeview Academy early Saturday afternoon. It was time for the Good News at Noon Christmas Party.
The annual event is the end-of-the-year celebration provided to the families that are regular participants in Good News’ weekly Family Night meal and Bible study held each Thursday during the year.
Good News Founder Gene Beckstein arrived as the buses were unloading and was warmly welcomed by dozens of excited children, appreciative parents, and St. Nick himself.
Inside Christmas music played, family portraits were being taken, face-painting and craft tables were full and busy, while hot dogs and hamburgers were being served by Lakeview Academy student-volunteers.
Christopher Jue is an eighth grader at Lakeview and helped toddlers and grandmothers navigate the last step off the large school buses. He admitted that while his role as Student President of the Middle School required him being there, he also wanted to be there.
"It feels really great for them and for you in the end because you just get that feeling inside you that is an unexplainable kind of good," Jue tried to explain.
Former Lakeview Academy administrator Pat England busily finalized last minute details. According to most of those involved in staging the massive party, England has (for the last several years) been the driving-force behind the event although she is hesitant to accept that recognition.
Mia Lilly is a fourth grader at Enota Elementary and came with her father, John, to be a part of all the yuletide excitement.
John Lilly is Board Chairman of Good News at Noon and says that his daughter and her brother, Gunner, have learned a lot watching as brightly wrapped bags of Christmas gifts are given to families that might otherwise have difficulty providing presents to their children.
"I know that all the people that get the presents are very thankful for them and that God is looking down from Heaven and saying when you get up here you’ll be rewarded a lot," said nine-year-old Mia.
Sometimes the rewards happen here, as well; just listen to the peals of youthful laughter.
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