Monday, December 17, 2007

Mayor’s Christmas Tree Party

December 13th, 2007

Re: Mayor’s Christmas Tree Party
December 8, 2007, Tony Aguirre Community Center

Dear Mayor Funkhouser,

On behalf of the children and families of the Westside, as well as those from other parts of the City who participated in the 6th Annual Mayor’s Christmas Tree Party at the Tony Aguirre Community Center please accept our thankfulness and appreciation.

Our party was held on Saturday, December 8, 2007 from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Here on the Westside, the Tony Aguirre Center works in partnership with the Ruiz Branch Library and the Westside CAN Center. We welcomed approximately 350 guests. Park Commissioner Stackhaus got there bright and early to help set up. Unfortunately, she could not stay long. In spite of challenging weather conditions close to 300 children received a terrific toy through the Marine Corps’ “Toys For Tots” program. Santa’s lap was well worn by the end of the day. Volunteer Mitch Elliot did a superb job as the real Santa’s stand-in. Elf David Orosco a twelve-year-old aspiring neighborhood thespian aided Santa. Through donations we rented David a bone fide elf costume for his acting debut. A fine luncheon of hot dogs and cookies and juice just hit the spot on a cold icy day. A bag of candy and a candy cane sweetened the end of the party.

Families played games with Party Masters and did crafts under the watchful eye of our Irene Ruiz Branch librarian, Ms. Julie Robinson and little ones bounced to the sky in the inflatable.

Ms. Sharon Gottschalk, Director of the Aguirre Center is a welcoming, well-organized hostess. A group of home schoolers who utilize the Aguirre Center decorated ‘Santa’s Toy Room’ for the children. Volunteers from EMBARQ commanded their posts with Christmas joy. Volunteers Cynthia Jaramillo and Son were official Santa photographers.

Parks Director Mark McHenry and Parks Commissioner John Fierro stopped by for some holiday cheer, a juice pack and a hot dog.

As we were cleaning up afterwards, two young ladies stayed to help. Sharon and I asked what ideas did they have to make next years Christmas party better. Jennifer, (not her real name) who can be a little melodramatic, said with arms sweeping out to embrace the universe “It was perfect just the way it was! It’s our tradition.” Jennifer is right; it is our tradition.

Jennifer was six years old for the first Mayor’s Christmas Tree Party at the Tony Aguirre Center, she is now twelve. Her home life is chaotic and dysfunctional and the kids are pretty low on mom’s list of priorities. The Mayor’s Christmas Tree Party is Jennifer’s Christmas tradition – a little food – a toy – Santa Claus – some fun and being with people who care about you. Another great thing about having the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Party in our community center is that Jennifer can walk to the Center. Most people in our neighborhood can walk to the community center. Children don’t have to be dependent upon an unreliable adult to bring them to the festivities.

This is a very powerful event, Mr. Mayor, it’s a tradition.

We also hope that next year, you or someone from your staff will be able to join us, also part of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree party tradition.

We realize there were funding challenges for this year’s party. Sharon judiciously scheduled staff so that no over-time was required depending upon our volunteers to help man the event. Through donations we were able to fill in the Christmas Tree Fund’s funding gap in order for us to have the event we had planned. We are optimistic that with your stewardship and the generosity of Kansas Citians there will be funding for the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Parties for years to come as long as we have children in need like Jennifer.

However, if by chance there is a deficit in the Christmas Tree Fund, perhaps the shortfall for the parties can be redirected from the Youth Advocacy budget which has grown immensely over the last few years.

Once again, thank you for continuing the tradition of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree party. Please extend our appreciation to those of your staff and City Hall employees who also contributed to our Christmas Party Tradition.


Lynda M. Callon

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