Tay’Shaun Hudson, 4, speaks earnestly to Santa about what he wants for Christmas as Mrs. Claus listens. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
MORROW — Going to a Christmas party, meeting Santa and taking home gifts was just the respite Tanika Mosley and her three young children needed this week.
Mosley’s oldest child, a daughter, 14, lives with cerebral palsy. Her condition means hospital and doctor visits, and worries about money.
“She’s been in the hospital again recently,” said Mosley. “She was in four days, went home and went back after two days by ambulance for four more days. She’s home now and they think they’ve got her condition under control.”
Mosley and her younger children took a break from all that worry Tuesday at a Christmas party at Morrow Elementary School. Maliyah Richardson, 8, Marcus Mosley Jr., 7, and Mariana Mosley, 6, visited with Santa and Mrs. Claus, sang and danced, opened gifts and enjoyed a pizza party.
“This was such a blessing,” said Mosley. “I am so grateful, I really am. Wow. It’s awesome.”
About a dozen and a half kids and their families were chosen to participate in the Morrow Police Department’s annual Christmas bash. The kids were allowed to open one gift during the party but the rest of the presents were taken home to be opened Christmas morning.
Some families, like Judy Hudson’s, wouldn’t have Christmas without the party.
“It was wonderful and we enjoyed it,” said Hudson. “We weren’t going to have Christmas otherwise. My sister is going to pay our way back to Tennessee to visit with her family during the holidays but that was going to be it for us.”
Instead, her children, Isabella and Remedy, both 3, Isaiah Beverly, 11, and Tay’Shaun Hudson, 4, carried home huge bags of brightly-wrapped gifts.
Morrow police has hosted the party for more than 20 years but Chief Chris Leighty said the goodwill extends beyond the walls of the police department.
“It’s always important to be part of the community,” he said. “We have to be able to give back. This party is a great example of the city government and the citizens coming together and helping out.”
Volunteers Marti Tracy and Karen Maddox-Jones took the lead in entertaining the children in Christmas songs and a reindeer dance of Maddox-Jones’ creation, with Capt. James Callaway spinning the tunes. The department planned on hosting about 20 children but Tracy said two families with two children each dropped out. One family had been living at Best Western but left town suddenly.
“That’s why stuff like this is important,” said Tracy. “This is why we do this. These kids need a Christmas.”
Leighty agreed. Although the bulk of money for gifts come from the officers’ own paycheck contributions through the year, Walmart gave a 15 percent discount on the purchases and Little Caesar’s Pizza donated half the pies eaten at the party.
“It’s not just the police department and the city of Morrow,” he said. “It’s the community coming together as a whole.”
Monies left over are rolled into next year’s celebration.
Leighty said as gratifying as the smiles on the kids’ faces are to see, the city officers and employees get more out of the celebration than the families.
“I believe the city and the officers gain more than the people we help,” he said. “It’s good for the soul to give.”