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Edmundite Missions rings in season with community Christmas party

The doors to the Bosco Nutrition Center didn’t open until 11 a.m. Saturday morning, but the line for the Edmundite Missions Community Christmas Party was already stretched from the main entrance all the way to the corner of Broad Street.

Families waited in line for their chance to get a picture with Santa Claus and then receive a free toy. Piles of toys were stacked up on tables and separated by age so that anyone 18 and under could receive a gift they can enjoy. There were also $15 gift cards available for those who were over 18, but still wanted to receive a gift.

The Bosco Center, which was still serving free lunches as usual, was fully expecting a large crowd for the Christmas party as they do every year. Executive Chef Harry Dominick was proud to be able to be a part of the popular Christmas event. He enjoyed seeing all the excitement on the kid’s faces who have been looking forward to this all year.

“This is absolutely the best time of the year for me,” Dominick said. “We’ve got everybody coming in. It doesn’t matter who you are or your age. We’re giving out lunch, and every child that comes through we’re giving them a gift.”

Aniyah Willoughby receives a gift at the Edmundites Christmas party.

Edmundite Missions employees arrived dressed as Santa’s helpers and volunteered their time to help things run smoothly at the nutrition center. They kept the Santa line in order, gave a copy of each picture to the families and helped find the right toy for every girl and boy in line.

The Edmundite Missions chief administrative officer Alice Mims was posted at the front of the line to get everyone ready to meet Santa.

“We’re giving back to the community to show the spirit of Christmas and show the spirit of love,” she said. “On behalf of our CEO and president Chad McEachern, he would like to make sure that everybody is happy for the holidays and can enjoy a free toy and a free snack.”

According to Mims, they served more than 1,700 people at last year’s community Christmas party. She was optimistic that the turnout would potentially be even bigger this year.

Julie Barnfield brought her three young daughters Adriunna, Jakaylynn and Saniya Barnfield so they could enjoy the community party together. The Barnfields got in line early at 10:45 a.m. and were inside meeting Santa in less than an hour.

“I believe when you come out you can meet new people and just get in the Christmas spirit,” Julie said. “They love to come to Bosco even when it ain’t Christmas. We got in here in good time.”

Julie watched her kids hurry to the gift room and select a toy, and she is grateful that they were able to have the experience together. She said more people should come and get involved.

“Everyone needs to come out and at least get your children a gift,” she said. “Some people can’t afford a gift, so at least they have something if they come here.”