The 160 members of the Key Club at Greater Johnstown High School are bringing the meaning of Christmas to life.
The club is hosting its second annual Trojan Family Christmas at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at the high school auditorium.
The group started the event last year as a way to help families who are struggling in these difficult economic times have a nice Christmas.
The event is free and includes a dinner and Christmas entertainment plus a visit by Santa Claus, who will present gifts to every child. WJAC-TV chief meteorologist Jim Burton will read “The Night Before Christmas.”
The event is open to children ages 4 to 12 who live in the school district and their families.
“One of the goals of the Key Club is to help unite the community and the students in our district,” said Kendra Slis, club president. “We thought the perfect way to do that would be to throw a Christmas party for the entire district.”
The look on the children’s faces when the curtain is pulled back to reveal Santa and the presents sums up why the club does the project, said Slis, who helped with the event last year.
All of the club members have been working long hours to prepare for the event, said the senior. The main advisers for the project, Luigina Magistro, Cynthia Maloy and Rob Heinrich, along with other advisers and school director Cyndi Ahlborn also have spent much time helping, she said.
Samantha Kline, a senior who helped with last year’s program, said it is a pleasure to see the joy on the children’s faces at the event.
“The event pulls the community together,” Kline said.
Kline said club members learn leadership and communication skills while working on the project.
Emily Lebron, a sophomore who helped with the event last year, said the event is a great opportunity for the community to get involved.
“The little children get to meet the upperclassmen and make a bond,” she said.
“All the Key Club members are working hard,” Lebron said. “We’ve accepted donations of toys and have stayed after school to wrap the presents.”
She said she enjoyed seeing the faces of the children when they saw the presents and Santa at last year’s program.
“It just felt good to know that they felt happy and excited to spend their holiday with us,” she said.
For their efforts with the event, Lebron, Kline and Slis are the Persons of the Week.
Magistro said the three contributed immensely to last year’s project.
“This year, they have taken on even more of a leadership role, contacting various local businesses to secure donations and organizing gift-wrapping parties with other members of the Key Club,” Magistro said.
Ahlborn said the club is doing a wonderful job on the event.
“Trojan Family Christmas is a wonderful community gathering that brings us together as a family,” she said. “Last year’s event was a big success. I am hoping this year’s will be even bigger and a fun time for all.”
Magistro said the event is being made possible through the support of the school board, Kiwanis Club of Johnstown, state Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Johnstown, the City of Johnstown, Johnstown police, Alternative Community Resource Program, the school’s faculty and staff, plus various organizations and individuals.
The generosity of alumni such as LaRod Stephens-Howling and Antuwan Reed, both former Trojan football standouts, is especially valued because it encourages students to support the community that has supported them, she said.
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