DLA Distribution Susquehanna “Santa’s Helpers” volunteer to provide holiday cheer to students from local school districts

By Diana Dawa, Distribution Public Affairs

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Volunteers from Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, and DLA Installation Management Susquehanna spent their free time in a non-duty status to help children from local schools enjoy a holiday party hosted by The Children’s Christmas Party, Inc. committee and held at the Susquehanna Club Dec. 9.

This was the 54th Annual Children’s Christmas Party hosted in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. The mission of the committee is “To inspire communities to give children who are less fortunate a day filled with joy, hope, laughter and to leave the world a little better than we found it!”

More than 100 students from Middletown, Highspire, Harrisburg, Cumberland Valley and West Shore school districts attended the party – transportation was provided by school districts.

According to DLA Installation Management Susquehanna’s Kelly Lemmons, committee president, CCPI, the school districts select which students will attend. “The school districts select children, ages six to eight, who would otherwise not be afforded the holiday luxuries that their schoolmates enjoy.”

Children enjoyed many activities from the time the buses arrive in the morning until mid-afternoon when buses departed. A magic show, face painting, writing letters to deployed soldiers, balloon animals and dancing were activities on the schedule for the day.  

“In addition to receiving over $100 worth of presents – new coats, sleeping bags, hats, gloves, sweatshirts, games, school supplies and more – Santa hands each child a small gift as they thank him and say their goodbyes,” said Lemmons. 

“This event would not be possible without the selfless efforts of dedicated volunteers during the party and throughout the year,” noted Lemmons, continuing, “Volunteers operate fundraisers and gather donations from area businesses to fund the event. Equally important is support from the community, such as local retirees, clubs, churches, businesses, schools and friends who donate money, gifts and time."

Over the last 54 years volunteers transform themselves into Santa’s helpers for a day, hand out gifts, entertain, or dole out lots of one-on-one attention to the young guests. 

A highlight of the day was when Army Col. March Callis, commander, DDSP, read the story, “The Night Before Christmas” to the students. “Being able to participate in this event and seeing how much the children enjoyed the story and the activities was truly a great experience.”

“It’s not just the students that enjoy the party,” said Lemmons. “The volunteers are rewarded with seeing the pure spirit of the holiday though the eyes of a child. You can see it in their eyes, this event lights up their world.”