First Person Perspective: The Spirit of the Season, Windy City Style
On December 10, the LIFT-Chicago team braved the weather to host our first Holiday Family Luncheon. Despite freezing temperatures, five of our parents and their children made the journey to Educare, our early childhood partner organization. Though this was only a handful of our member, I was excited to put faces to the names I have heard so many times from our program team.
Intrepid volunteers and generous sponsors provided and oversaw games and activities that included inflatable bowling, coloring, picture frame decorating and — without a doubt the most popular part — cookie decorating. Children, parents and volunteers alike quickly gobbled up the delicious spread of sandwiches, wraps, veggies and sweets, all generously donated by Senior Program Manager Sarah Spunt’s parents.
Board Members David and Alison Heyman brought their own young children, who quickly bonded with the other kids over crafts and cookies. Several volunteers from the University of Chicago partnered with our interns from Loyola University Chicago to keep the kids entertained while Program Fellow Anna Stone and I ran the show. Even Executive Director Sol Anderson’s 18-month-old son Malcom joined the party for a while, playing energetically before going home early for a nice, long nap.
A highlight for me was spending the better part of half an hour sitting on the floor coloring with a precocious 6-year-old who declared we were twins after discovering our mutual love of chocolate pudding. Or maybe when some of the volunteers and I learned ninja moves from a charming, sharply-dressed 4-year-old in bright red sneakers.
When I started planning this event in September, winter seemed distant. And though I begrudgingly pared down our ideas to fit the scale and stage of our program (I am determined to do a coat drive next year), the shift from gift-giving to community-building turned out to be a most important one. The event proved a bonding experience for parents and children alike — giving members the chance to chat with each other and with volunteers while their kids were occupied. Most importantly, there was a spirit of holiday togetherness with a LIFT-Chicago community made up of people from all walks and stages of life. And together, for a few hours on a snowy Saturday, we reveled in that holiday magic.
Check out photos from the event on LIFT’s flickr.
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