Posted: Saturday, December 7th 2013 at 3:55pm
Good News at Noon Christmas party draws hundreds
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – Santa had an opportunity to get some of his gifts delivered ahead of schedule Saturday at Lakeview Academy, site of the annual Good News at Noon Christmas Party.
Hundreds of boys and girls packed the lunchroom at the Gainesville prep school to dine on hot dogs and hamburgers, learn Yuletide arts and crafts, have their faces painted and hear the Christmas story.
"These children need to be encouraged and need to feel like they are a part of the community and that people care about them," event organizer Pat England explained.
England is a member of the Good News Board of Directors and has head manned the annual celebration for the past fifteen years.
"We want them to grow up and be good citizens of their community where they live and contribute to it. So we need to be respectful of them now if we want them to be respectful of their community in the future," England added.
Before she retired England worked as an administrator at Lakeview and tried to involve interested students in the Good News outreach. That practice is still in place as volunteer students decorated the brightly colored lunchroom, distributed food, served as greeters, sang Christmas carols and stayed to clean up after the party was finished.
"It’s great to see all the smiles on the kids’ faces," student Stephanie Eubanks said as she busily arranged fresh fruit as a centerpiece on each table.
Hannah Parker has recently become the Director of Children and Youth Ministry for Good News at Noon. "I can’t wait for the future for them (the children) and what I am hoping for them long term is to learn more about the Lord…and stay more involved in school," Parker said, cradling a three month old in her arms, allowing the baby’s mother to settle in at one of the tables.
Following the re-enactment by Good News staff and reading of the Gospel of Luke Christmas story, the party culminated in a trip through the school’s old gymnasium where hundreds of festively colored bags awaited each family.
Fifty-one families had qualified for the bags by attending Good News family night dinners and Bible studies. Each bag contained wrapped toys and other childhood necessities personalized to the needs and wants of that family.
As an added extra this year each family was handed a $25 Wal-Mart gift card as they exited the gym and boarded buses for the ride back to the Davis Street shelter.
All the gifts, gift cards and food had been paid for with donations from the community. Those interested in helping fund next year’s Christmas celebration and gift giving are invited to contact England at (770) 534-2143.
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