December 23, 2013

American Legion Christmas: Santa visits with 33 children at annual party

By R. Scott Belzer
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The American Legion at Post 16  in London did its part in contributing to the holiday season by hosting its annual Christmas Party and gift giveaway Saturday.

The Christmas Party, which has been going on for more than 20 years, comprised of lunch and a gift giveaway to 33 children. Various guidance counselors throughout the Laurel County school system chose the children who would participate.

While the lunch included all of the essentials – pizza donated from Little Caesar’s, Pepsi, chocolate and cherry pie – the much anticipated gift giveaway had the one key ingredient: Santa Claus.

And he made quite the entrance by arriving atop an East Bernstadt fire truck. A small, but excited, group of children were there to greet him.

Candy canes, cheerful hugs and similar pleasantries were exchanged before Santa made his way inside the Legion’s dining hall. He took the seat at the head of festively decorated room next to a pile of specifically marked gift bags. Tim Brock, Commander at Post 16, then joined him before calling out names and giving away presents.

The gift bags were filled with brand new coats, shoes, pants, shirts and a toy of a child’s choosing. While the Legion cannot accommodate all requests, they do their best to fulfill Christmas wishes.

“Many kids instantly write down ‘Xbox 360,' and we obviously can’t do that,” Brock said. “But we do our best to keep it within a theme and give kids a good Christmas.”

Some children rushed to greet Santa while others, embarrassed and reluctant, slowly made their way to his outstretched arms. In all cases, children walked away with a giant smile on their faces.

The Christmas Party stands as the culmination of a year’s worth of member and local business donations. Brock believes it’s worth it. According to the Commander, the Christmas Party went off splendidly and “made a lot of memories for children that will last a long time.”

“Everything we do is geared toward the community,” Brock said, “It’s really just the community putting back into itself and helping those it can. It’s the community helping the community.”

The American Legion at Post 16 is comprised of 186 members. For information on donating to next year’s Christmas Party, call Post 16 at (606) 864-26247.