Cromwell High School Student Council volunteers hosted another successful Santa’s Workshop, where they served dinner and distributed gifts to Cromwell children whose families may be experiencing financial difficulty, Dec. 19.
Student Council Hosts Santa’s Workshop
CROMWELL - Months of hard work came to a head at the 29th annual Santa’s Workshop Program, a joint collaboration between the Cromwell Youth Services Department and the Cromwell High School Student Council to benefit families in need during the holidays, with a party and gift distribution event Thursday, Dec. 19, in the Cromwell High School cafeteria.

       The Student Council raised $1,450 in funds to purchase gifts and baked cookies, decorated the cafeteria, and served pizza, beverages and desserts to the guests. Children were entertained by the magic of Steve Wronker, and balloon sculptures by ‘Noodles,’ AKA Nancy Whitehead, were in high demand. Craft projects provided a momentary quiet activity while all awaited Santa’s arrival.

       Wen Jolly ‘ol Saint Nick burst upon the scene, the excitement escalated. Children crowded around his feet, inching closer and closer in anticipation of their name being called out, waiting to receive that one special package just for them.

       The ‘controlled chaos’ hit a record number in attendance, with 144 children up to 12 years old registered.

       The annual Santa’s Workshop program is a Positive Youth Development program that benefits Cromwell High School teens through community service efforts. Student Council members scramble each year to sign up for the project.

       “The energy is electrifying,” said Cromwell Youth Services Program Director Marcia Sacco. “There is an awakening and awareness in our teenagers when all their hard work culminates in a celebratory evening of grateful children and their families. It is a humbling and rewarding feeling that sticks with our volunteers.”

       The students are required to take the lead and be independent organizers and planners for the event, which started in the summer. The fundraising, planning, order placement, purchases, delivery, registration of guests and children and wrapping were just some of the behind-the-scenes projects that took place before the event itself.

       “The advisors are just that--they are there if needed, but maintain their distance, allowing the volunteers to learn from this experience,” Sacco said. “Anyone who has ever planned an event knows how many ‘little details’ come into play. Little details add up! Everyone has a job and duties are delegated for months prior to the event.”

       Student volunteers for the annual Santa’s Workshop program experience personal benefits themselves.

       “The educational benefits of being involved in this program prepares our youth to be better adults. They start to think a little less about self and a little more about others. They realize how fortunate they are,” Sacco said. “Everyone looks forward to this annual event when we participate in the true meaning of the holiday season by sharing the spirit of giving with the chidden of our community whose families may be experiencing financial difficulties.”

       Cromwell Youth Services maintains confidentiality when it comes to participants for the event, and all data is handled by the office with regard to ethics, privacy and the dignity of the participants. Only the first name and age of the child is shared with the party hosts at Cromwell High School. A variety of ‘screening’ applications exist in other well-established programs in the community, such as the food bank, fuel assistance program, and Board of Education records and referrals. While the departments may work under different umbrellas, as town employees their goals are the same--to serve the public.

       “the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child is a wonderful thing,” Sacco said. “Judging by the response of this magical night, it’s safe to say that the spirit of the season touched many.”