By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – Geizaya McNair was all smiles as she clutched the brand new present she just received: A Connect 4 game; meanwhile her cousin, Calvin, couldn’t take his eyes off the shiny Hot Wheels toy he was holding onto tightly.
Both City of Newburgh children had just finished having their photos taken with Santa, a memorable moment they were able to cherish forever when they were handed the holiday photos to keep.
“My favorite part of this event so far is getting my picture taken with Santa, said the excited second grader, McNair, whose cousin was quick to cite receiving his toy as the best part of the afternoon.
These moments of sheer joy, along with countless others, were made possible Saturday afternoon, from 12-2 at the Healthfirst site on Rte 17K in the Town of Newburgh. Here, at the brand-new, recently opened facility, a large crowd turned out to participate in the health agency’s first annual “Holiday Fun with Santa” event. Including a toy distribution, glitter and glue arts and crafts activity, picture with Santa, and hot chocolate, the afternoon further offered critical Head Start information as well details about the Healthy Neighborhood Program compliments of the City of Newburgh Health Department. Bringing together several agencies and a host of dedicated volunteers, many dressed up in green and red colored, festive holiday attire, the highly successful event, which attracted an impressive number of people, was the ideal way to continue introducing the new health agency- as well as its many offerings- to the community.
“We are so excited our community office is open, and we can celebrate the holiday season with local families; we are thrilled to be able to partner with two Newburgh Enlarged City School District agencies: Homeless Liason and Family and Community Engagement as well as the Orange County Department of Health, Newburgh HeadStart Program and several other people to host a fun-filled family event with a visit from Santa, arts and crafts, and over 300 toys,” said Erika Silva, Healthfirst Market Development Manager. “Healthfirst wishes everyone in the local area and our members a very happy holiday and new year.”
The effects of the efforts of all involved were evident both inside and outside of the Healthfirst site. Whether it was a child, such as Luz Vidal making new friends and glowing after receiving her Frozen Doll, children eagerly constructing a holiday craft or happily chatting away with Santa, people were coming together in a positive way and holiday magic was being made.
“This event is really nice; the people who are working it are all dressed up and look very friendly, Santa is here for the kids to see and sit with, and there are nice backdrops and decorations all over,” said Abril McNair, who came with her son and niece and nephew. “I really love going to community events, especially this time of the year; it’s just such a happy time and something a lot of us really need and appreciate.”