OLDMANS TWP. - Touching Lives of South Jersey (TLSJ) hosted its 2nd Annual Christmas Party for children in need in Gloucester and Salem counties, ages 1 to 13, on Dec. 11. This year's party had more than 170 children in attendance, and was held at the Edward W. Dorn Community Center in Pedricktown.
The event began with a welcome address, introduction of the TSLJ board and a brief overview of the party itinerary by board member Valerie Gibson. Other board members in attendance were Robert Gibson, director, Tommy White, Michelle White and Michelle Cleveland. Shortly after the introduction, lunch was served.
After all had dined, the children were introduced to the first surprise visitor, Pickles the Magic Elf of Class Clowns in Woolwich Township. Pickles performed magic tricks and she also got them to their feet and they sang Christmas carols and danced with her.
Following Pickles were two surprise visitors from the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus. The children roared when they entered, very eager to sit on Santa's lap.
All of the children got to sit on Santa's lap, take a picture and were presented with a gift. Upon leaving the stage, the children were given overstuffed stockings and giveaways from the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
In addition, upon arrival and registration, each person was given a free raffle ticket for a chance to win an additional surprise. There were approximately 30 additional toys from Build-A-Bear (donated by First Baptist Church, Pedricktown), a commemorative Barbie doll, remote control cars, etc., given away during the raffle. They also got to take home their pictures with Santa.
TLSJ received donations from many sponsors. In addition to those mentioned above, other corporate sponsors were: Wawa, Herr's, NAACP of Salem County, Lighthouse Ministries, Incollingo's Market of Penns Grove, Advanced Auto of Penns Grove, Roman Pantries and Italian Kitchen of Penns Grove, Ebony Rainbow Quilters Guild, Calvary Community Development Corporation, Dietz and Watson, Gloucester County Toys for Tots, WATCH (We Aspire to Capture Hope), Second Baptist Church, Pedricktown (Outreach and Missionary Ministries), BJ's Wholesale Club, John Wesley AME of Port Norris, and the Gloucester County Minority Coalition.
There were also many individuals who donated their time and finances.