Tymeer Ferguson, 7, smiles as he talks about his new toy he chose at the Lovejoy Christmas Party. His mother, Rena Hamilton said the event allowed him time to play with other children.
LOVEJOY— Nearly 300 youngsters and their parents crowded into the Lovejoy Community Center recently to see jolly old Saint Nick during the City of Lovejoy’s annual Christmas party.
“We got Christmas gifts, pizza and juice,” said seven-year-old Tymeer Ferguson. His mother, Rena Hamilton said although all of the excitement at the center was over seeing Santa and receiving presents she said her son knows the true meaning of the season.
“Christmas is all about a family,” Ferguson explained. “It’s all about Jesus’ birthday!”
Hamilton said the Christmas party gives the local children time to interact with other children they may not know.
“Some children are not able to celebrate the holidays like this because of the lack of finances,” she said.
Lovejoy Mayor Bobby Cartwright said the 5th annual Lovejoy Christmas Party is one of the city’s major events. The holiday event has grown over the years. Only 40 children showed up for the first Christmas party the city sponsored, according to Cartwright.
“We had toys left over the first year we did this,” Cartwright said. “We’re glad this year that we had enough toys for each child to get a toy. I know a lot of these kids and I’m glad to see them here.”
Lovejoy Assistant City Clerk Kaycia Rhone said sponsors such as Bryan Brakefield of State Farm, Kiwanis Club of Lovejoy, Sacred Praise United ethodist Church, and Bless God’s Children Ministries helped to make the event a success.
“Brakefield was a major donor, he gave a significant amount of funds,” said Rhone. “Brakefield was one of the original sponsors and has been consistent over the years. Bless God’s Children Ministries donated 25 bikes that were raffled off. The winners of the bikes were extremely excited because no one was expecting bikes as Christmas gifts.”
Rhone and her volunteers hid the brand new bikes in a back room of the center during the festivities.
Bless God’s Children Ministries Executive Director, Rev. Eleyda Jones said donating the bikes is an example of the partnership between the non-profit organization and the city.
“We always have our toy explosion at the Lovejoy Community Center,” Jones said. “The city of Lovejoy embraces us and sponsors us by donating the usage of the building. This year we were able to donate toys and bicycles.”
Sacred Praise church gave 250 turkey certificates away to families, who are scheduled to pick up the turkeys on Dec. 22, according to Cartwright.
Bridgett Keaton watched as her son Sirderrian Keaton’s face was painted by “Glitter the Clown.”
“We’re going to make this a family tradition,” she said. “This is our first year here.”
All of a sudden someone let out a scream as the bicycles were being raffled off.
“I won!” said 10-year-old Kamya Stokes, who giggled as they rolled her new bicycle into the center.
“I know she’s going to enjoy this,” said her mother, Angie Stokes. “I am very pleased.”
That scenario continued throughout the announcements of the raffle winners.
“I didn’t think I was going to win,” said Micah Queen, 17. “This is a great Christmas present!”
Brenda Perry’s daughter Brianna Perry, 11, waited in line for “Clown Cali” to twist a balloon into an animal shape.
The youngster said it was worth the wait. “I got a new toy balloon,” she said
“This is the second year we have come to the Christmas party,” Brenda Perry said. “Because, the children have so much fun here.”