Bellaire High School students brightened the holiday season for more than 100 local children on Saturday, Dec. 3.
Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates (TCPA), located at the corner of Chimney Rock and Gulfton, serves a community with extreme financial and emotional needs. For the fifth year, the TCPA turned to Bellaire High School for help in providing a magical Holiday experience for some of the families with the most extreme needs.
Carl Casteel, BHS Librarian, organized the school clubs to provide food, clothing, and entertainment for all of the families who attended the party. The families were selected by Ana Thornton, a social worker at TCPA, who helped Casteel with the event.
“The outpouring of enthusiasm and support that we see from our students seems to grow every year. I just stand aside and the students put their heart and effort into the event,” Casteel said. “The students took responsibility for this event and made it a joyful day for the families.”
Around 50 clubs responded – involving around 300 students – with each club selecting one family to sponsor. The clubs set up activity stations in the Multi Purpose Room to keep the families busy for three hours with face painting, Twister, basketball, art projects and cookie decorating. The Bellaire Future Farmers of America set up a petting zoo with live sheep in the courtyard. The musical club Muse entertained with holiday songs.
Members of the First Presbyterian Church Choir Resound! Youth Choir provided music while the families dined on pizza and snacks. Clubs arranged for donated gifts and food from local businesses and individuals. Santa Claus brought cheer to the youngsters and sat for photos with the guests. At the end of the party, each family received a food card and a bag of gifts especially chosen by the club who had “adopted” them.
The size of the event has increased every year.
“The only way that you can have an event this successful is to have commitment and follow through,” Casteel said. “The students understand this from the beginning, and commit to making the party succeed. With dedication like that, a party on this large scale is no problem.”
“This was my first year to oversee this party,” Thornton said. “The families are so happy to bring their children to the event. The Bellaire students are a caring, generous group of young people who have brought many families joy today.”