The Kiwanis Club of Punta Gorda held our first annual Christmas @East on Saturday, December 16, 2017 at East Elementary School in Punta Gorda. East Elementary serves students from the rural area of Punta Gorda; an area of hard-working families who have a hard time making ends meet. Christmas is a lean time for them.
Students of the school and their families were treated to a day of fun, food, and gifts. The day was held in the school's cafeteria, but we were able to have 2 bounce houses, face painting, crafts, and games, and serve lunch to everyone! The PTO provided cotton candy, popcorn, and snow cones.
A hot dog lunch was provided through the generous donations of Cheney Brothers, Inc; the Smoke'n Pit BBQ of Port Charlotte; The Paper Company Restaurant Supply & Equipment; and the Kiwanis Club of Northside Naples. The Kiwanis Club of North Port very kindly leant us their big grill to cook all those hot dogs! A special Elf Ice Cream dessert was donated by Harborwalk Scoops & Bites.
After lunch, St. Nick himself arrived to greet each child and take a photo with them. Afterwards, the children were able to select gifts, and we had a little twist on that, too. Each student was given a card with 500 points they could "spend" in the gift shop. Most children chose to buy gifts for their siblings or family members rather than only for themselves. The school's PTO got into the act and set up a gift wrapping station so the gifts could be a surprise on Christmas morning. Through a surprise donation from Toys for Tots, the children were also able to choose a toy just for themselves without having to spend any points.
At the end of the day, each student went home with a string back pack that held a personal hygiene kit, and a bag with food and snacks they could make for themselves during the Christmas break when they wouldn't be receiving breakfast and lunch at school. The nutritional snack packs were provided by Meals of Hope.