CLAYTON -- Over 100 children gathered last weekend to make handmade items for their holiday gift giving.
The Clayton Parks and Recreation Department held their annual Santa’s Workshop at the town’s Community Center on Dec. 8, something that has become a traditional event for many area families.
Cost of admission was two canned goods per child to be donated to Clayton Area Ministries. Parks and Recreation program coordinator Matt Lorion estimated 120 kids attended and over 200 pieces of food were collected.
“This is something where parents can bring the kids to, have fun and make some arts and crafts,” explained Lorion. “It’s also a great way to give back to the community.”
Children were able to choose from 16 different craft projects spread out over two rooms at the Center. Volunteers from the Clayton Youth Council assisted young participants with painting, assembling ornaments and beading necklaces. Lorion said the 20 student helpers were instrumental in making the day a success.
Navneet Atwal, 17, a senior at Clayton High School and CYC member, stood behind a craft table assisting Olivia Connor, 7, with making a Christmas tree shaped ornament.
“I just love working with little kids,” said Atwal. “Most of us arrived here early to set up and we plan on staying afterward to help with clean up.”
Olivia Connor proudly held up one of her four new ornaments along with a handcrafted necklace. Mom Dawn Connor said the event is something her entire family looks forward to. Son Jeremy, a senior at Cleveland High School, also participates as one of the CYC volunteers.
“We’ve been coming out for Santa’s Workshop for four years,” Connor said. “This is where we get all of our new ornaments from. It’s our family tradition.”
Loren Parker, 10, a fourth-grader at River Dell Elementary, was hard at work making gifts for those on her list. Special items included a snowflake ornament and charm bracelets.
“I have fun coming here and it’s nice that we get to make presents,” she said. “These are going to go to both my family and friends for Christmas.”
Her mom, Lynn Parker, stood off to the side averting her eyes so not to ruin her surprise. She said the annual program is one that her family makes sure not to miss.
“They ask for just two canned goods but we always bring more than that,” said Parker. “I think it’s great that Clayton Parks and Rec offers a program like this and makes it affordable.”
In addition to the crafts, children were also treated to cookies, drinks and a visit from Santa Claus.