Healthfirst Kicks Off Holiday Season With Santa

By Jennifer L. Warren

NEWBURGH – Liam Trinidad, sporting a nifty red Spiderman facepainting insignia, was laser focused on applying just the right amount of glue to the center of the Christmas ornament he carefully balanced in his hand as he glanced over at the nearby sparkly glitter.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” said the smiling Newburgh third grader. “It was nice to be able to pick out a toy too.”

Trinidad, along with an impressive crowd of children, was happily absorbed in getting into the holiday season Saturday afternoon inside the Healthfirst Newburgh Community Office, located at the Target Shopping Plaza on Rte. 17K. The popular, second year event not only offered indoor festivities that included authentic Polaroid pictures with Santa, but outdoor holiday music that filled the airwaves as face painting recipients reveled in selecting seasonal décor applied by Team Newburgh volunteers, including siblings Marissa, Madeira and Seth Monchery, whose father Stevenson, also a Team Newburgh member, was seated indoors as Santa Claus with children atop his lap.

Children pose for a picture with Santa Claus after receiving a gift from Toys For Tots at Healthfirst on Saturday, December 9, 2023. Hudson Valley Press/CHUCK STEWART, JR.
Children pose for a picture with Santa Claus after receiving a gift from Toys For Tots at Healthfirst on Saturday, December 9, 2023. Hudson Valley Press/CHUCK STEWART, JR.

“The children are the best part of doing this.” said Madeira. “They are so appreciative.”
Brother Seth raved about the chance to work with glitter.

Their sister, Marissa, added, “It’s just fun to do the painting; It allows us to show our creative side.”

That creativity was also at the epicenter of the ornament station, where children like Trinidad, were able to add their personal touches to ornaments to adorn their trees. The craft option, also compliments of Team Newburgh, was yet another example of the potency of partnerships toward making this event flourish.

“We are here today decorating ornaments with the community as well as passing out ‘Be kind to mind, and don’t do drugs.’” said Ermelinda Cortes of Team Newburgh. “The most rewarding thing is doing positive, community things while partnering with different sectors.”

Those event partnerships extended to; Newburgh Armory Unity Center as well as Toys for Tots, represented by Marines. The extensive and varied indoor toy tables, which youth guests had to choose from, elicited plenty of broad, memorable smiles.

Nia Neeyah, a second grader from Monroe, sporting her reindeer facepainting image, proudly displayed her choice: an 8 piece Beauty Connection, complete with nail polish and makeup. Meanwhile, her sister, kindergartener, Dorliyah Delpe, also wearing a reindeer image on her cheek, selected a Classic Lego gift. Newburgh resident, Brandi, who found out about the event through Orange County Department of Health, relayed how her satisfied son, who was busy working on his ornament, chose a drone.

“This is a really nice family outing,” said Brandi. “It’s very, very nice.”

Hosts, Healthfirst, last year created the community, family-centered holiday kickoff, with those very intentions and much more. It has only increased in popularity and joy since.

“Today’s event is a token of gratitude towards the Newburgh community and a special thank you for all the support as we celebrate one year of having inaugurated our office here,” said a spokesperson for the company, who thanked all of the amazing Healthfirst staff and devoted volunteers for making the afternoon such a success. “Healthfirst wishes everyone in the local area, our members, friends, and neighbors a very healthy and happy holiday season and new year!”
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