South Hall Rotary teamed up with our Interact clubs and the local community to help support the Chicopee Woods Christmas block party for the area students and families. This event began a few years ago as the inspiration of one local teacher to make sure each of the students in one of Hall County’s lowest-income elementary schools’ kids in the school would receive a gift and celebrate with some fun family time and activities.
Chicopee Woods Teacher Tina Hayes stated that the “annual event provides free games, music, and food boxes for our students and their families.”
South Hall Rotary made the decision to support this organization by re-evaluating and replacing one of the club’s largest Christmas service projects this year. Club President Rena Pendley mentioned that “after it became apparent that the new Hall is Home initiative was taking over the duties our club usually provided for local foster kids at Christmas, we started looking for a new targeted way to invest in the lives of children in our community during this magical time of year.”
The South Hall Rotary Club stumbled across this opportunity to help with the event held in our own backyard through our community relationship with the Secret Santa Car Show. Each year the Car Show’s 5013c receives requests from those in the South Hall Community who need assistance in various ways. One of those requests came from Tina Hayes for the annual Christmas Block party. The Secret Santa board new the South Rotary was looking for new opportunities and were able to connect the organizer’s with the Rotary Club.
“The Christmas Block Party is the biggest event that our school hosts for our school’s families. We gather food to help feed the families over Christmas break, try to provide at least one board game for each family to enjoy and provide other donations from local businesses, churches, and charitable groups” said Hayes.
The event even provides school buses to bus the families to the event and take them home as well because most of the students’ families do not have transportation of their own. The 2018 event had over 1,000 people visit the Christmas Party and are where the group’s need for community involvement has grown.
The School worked with local donors and partners in education to provide a gift to all 750 students at the school. On Thursday before the block party, Santa visited the school and gave a gift to each student. For some students, this was the first time they had ever seen Santa.
All the teachers from the school and the bus drivers donated their time to make this event a success for not just the students, but their families. All the hard work culminated on Friday night as they invited the entire community out to the Baptist Church located in Chicopee Village to participate.
The South Hall Rotary Club coordinated with the Interact Students at Johnson High School, Cherokee Bluff High School, and Flowery Branch High School to assist with activities and crafts for the students this year. “Our club used the same activities that we have provided for the Foster Kids Christmas party in the past and replicated it for the block party event”, stated Pendley.
Overall, thousands of children and families had the opportunity to write last-minute letters to Santa, get their faces painted, and make ornaments with the help of our local Interact clubs. Although this is the South Hall Rotary’s first year participating in this event, the club plans to make this an annual event.
Club President-Elect Amanda Groover mentioned that “Sometimes one door closes so that another one can open. We are amazed at what these teachers have accomplished for their students outside their normal duties and we can’t wait to build a better relationship with them in the future.”