With an outpouring of holiday cheer, Bellaire students brightened the season for a group of local children. Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates (TCPA), located at the corner of Chimney Rock and Gulfton, serves a community with extreme financial and emotional needs. For the fourth year, Lidia Santiago, a social worker at the TCPA, turned to Bellaire High School for help in providing a magical Christmas experience for some of the families with extreme needs.
Carl Casteel, BHS Librarian, organized the school clubs to provide food, clothing, and entertainment for all of the families who attended the party. “I can’t say enough about the hard work these students put into this party,” said Mr. Casteel. “This is one of the most caring, enthusiastic group of students that I’ve seen. They took responsibility for this event and made it a joyful day for the families.”
More than 50 clubs responded, involving around 300 students – twice the number from last year. The clubs set up activity stations around the cafeteria to keep over 50 families busy for three hours with face painting, bowling, Twister, basketball, art projects and cookie decorating. The mild weather brought families out into the school courtyard to the petting zoo, which was set up and manned by the BHS Future Farmers of America.
Members of the First Presbyterian Church Choir Resound Youth Choir provided music. Clubs arranged for donated gifts and food from local businesses and individuals. Santa Claus brought cheer to the youngsters and sat for photos with the guests. At the end of the party, each family received a box of food and gifts especially chosen by the club who had “adopted” them.
The students had at least as much fun as the families who were invited. “It was so much fun to see how happy the kids were,” said sophomore Errol Phalo of the Japanese Club. “They were shy at first, but they wanted to try everything. They warmed up after a while and really started having a good time.”
The size of the event increases every year. “The only way that you can have an event this successful is to have commitment and follow-through,” said Casteel. “The students understand this from the beginning, and commit to making the party succeed. With dedication like that, a party on this large scale is no problem.”
“The Bellaire students come through for me every year,” said Ms. Santiago. “The families are so happy to bring their children to the event. The parties have been such a success that I hope to do this every year. The Bellaire students are a caring, generous group of young people who are organized and can successfully complete an undertaking like this.”