What gets you into the spirit of Christmas? I think that until I have kids, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas until the Annual Kicks 4 Kids Christmas party. This was my fourth year volunteering for this event. I have volunteered with Kicks 4 Kids for a total of 7 years. If you are unfamiliar with this organization, it was started by Doug Pelfrey, a Cincinnati Bengals kicker in the 90’s, and is focused on helping kids in the community. You can read all about the organization here.
So about this Christmas party, every year, a group of local under-privileged Cincinnati kids are selected to participate in the Christmas celebration held at Paul Brown Stadium. Each child is paired up with a chaperon (this year my sister and I paired up) and participate in a service project before the Christmas celebration as a way to get to know the child a little better before spending a whole evening together. My sister and I met Leah before Thanksgiving along with her other classmates to pick up trash around their school. We got to see inside her life for those short hours together. A few things we learned about Leah: her family is from Uganda and has only spent a few years in the US, she has a younger sister, English is her second language and she loves Barbies. We basically learned the essentials.
We then met Leah and her classmates last night at Paul Brown. The evening started off with some Skyline dinner, face painting, balloon animals and pictures with Santa’s crew.
We then met Kevin Huber ( who is the current Cincinnati Bengals kicker and my personal favorite, as he was an allstar at UC during my time there), Doug Pelfrey and other Kicks 4 Kids representatives (ex-Bengal players who I don’t remember their names). And the Christmas Story was read to the children.
And then came the introduction of the Big Guy, the guy who all the kids were there to see, the guy who brings Christmas joy, the guy who holds the record for eating the most cookies in one night, I think you know who I’m talking about, Santa made an appearance with Mrs. Claus of course.
And they brought with them their elves and presents, for every child. They called each kid up one by one. Here is a little video of Leah, notice the joy and happiness in her eyes, this is what the gift of giving is all about.
Leah ended up with a whole trash bag full of Barbies. The children all open one gift with Santa and then open their remaining gifts with their chaperons. Here are some of the other children and their time with Santa….gifts from scooters to Nintendo DS.
Santa also gave some of the kids bikes for Christmas, which were delivered by Huber and was a great opportunity for kids to get their picture taken with a Bengals player!!
After Santa, we went to the gift shop where Leah could pick out some presents for Mom and Dad and also make a delicious cookie.
Next we went down to the locker rooms. We first visited the Bengals locker room (where we were prohibited to take pictures) and then we went to the guest locker room where each kid had their names on their own locker with a bundle of gifts inside.
The team then had their pep talk from Pelfrey.
And then ran onto the field like champions.
We then spent about 30 minutes playing football, which you can tell was Leah’s favorite part.
It was a fun time had by all and Leah really enjoyed herself. She kept saying “this is the best day ever” and it really made my heart melt and has really made me excited for Christmas and celebrating it with all the special people in my life. What’s the thing that really gets you into the Holiday spirit? Have you experienced it this year? Christmas is less than two weeks away, there is still time to go out and experience that holiday cheer, whatever it may be.