Local News

Wednesday, Dec 04 2013 04:11 PM

Christmas party brings smiles, cheer to children

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Beardsley Elementary School student Isaiah Neira is one of about 300 area students chosen to participate in the annual Elks Christmas party where children had lunch, were entertained with holiday music and were able to choose a Christmas gifts after a visit with Santa Wednesday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Harmonie Cruz from Virginia Avenue School plays an instrument along with other children during the annual Elks Christmas party held at the Elks Lodge on 30th Street Wednesday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianAmy McGuire gets the children's attention, as Santa is about to make his entrance during the annual Elks Christmas party Wednesday.

    Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianAmy McGuire gets the children's attention, as Santa is about to make his entrance during the annual Elks Christmas party Wednesday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianAlyssa High from Pioneer School appears excited during the annual Elks Christmas party.

    Henry A. Barrios / The CalifornianAlyssa High from Pioneer School appears excited during the annual Elks Christmas party.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Rickie Neira from Beardsley Elementary School gets a hug from Santa and is asked if he has been good as he participates in the Elks Christmas party for area students Wednesday. The children were able to choose a gift to take home and had lunch also.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    The Elks Lodge on 30th Street provided lunch, music and a Christmas gift for area students chosen to participate in the annual event. More than 300 children and their chaperones were served Wednesday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Williams Elementary School students appear happy to participate in the annual Elks Christmas party held at the Elks Lodge on 30th Street Wednesday.

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BY LAURA LIERA Californian staff writer lliera@bakersfield.com

"You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why, Santa Claus is comin' to town."

And as Santa Claus entered the Elks Lodge on 30th Street on Wednesday, more than 350 kids pointed at him and sang along, their voices filling the room with holiday cheer.

For more than 100 years, the Elks Lodge has put together a holiday lunch filled with music and presents for children. The lodge raised $5,000 this year, which took care of food, gifts and goodie bags for each child.

Taking a bite of his second hot dog, 8-year-old Isaiah Neira's eyes sparkled as he talked about his favorite part of the Christmas party.

"You get to see and hug Santa and you get presents," Neira said.

Sitting next to Neira was his buddy Tyler McMurray, 8. Both attend Beardsley Elementary School. Although they were happy to be at the party for the second year in a row, they felt sad that not all their classmates were able to attend.

Beardsley had eight students at the party. School staff and teachers decide who joins the festivities after finding out more information on their families' financial status.

"Most of them are raised by a single parent and only have one source of income coming in to their household so we do some research before choosing the kids," said Janet Cardoza, a teacher at Bill L. Williams Elementary School.

The stage at the end of the room was filled with piles of toys. There were more than 360 gifts -- everything from soccer balls, to Barbies to superhero action figures, bracelet kits and much more.

Tapping her foot anxiously in line to meet Santa Claus, Vernise Moreno, 7, couldn't take her eyes off the last pink and purple baby doll on stage.

"I've always wanted a baby doll because they are soft and they come with a teddy bear and baby milk bottle to feed her," Moreno said.

After Moreno hugged Santa, she quickly made her way to choose her present. As she got her arms around the baby doll, her eyes glistened and she swayed from side to side, hugging her new doll tightly.

Sitting back and taking in the smiling faces of kids, John Doolittle, president of the Elks Lodge, said he was happy to see the kids show thier new toys to each other.

"It's a blessing to help make someone's Christmas a little brighter," Doolittle said.

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