CLAYTON — Nearly 200 children spent a rainy Saturday morning dry and cozy inside the town’s Community Center, working hard to create handmade items for those on their holiday gift list.
On Dec. 14, the Clayton Parks and Recreation Department held its annual Santa’s Workshop, an event that has turned into a tradition for many families.
The cost of admission was two canned goods per child to be donated to Clayton Area Ministries. Parks and Recreation program coordinator Matt Lorion estimated the event collected more than 300 food items.
“This is a day everyone really looks forward to,” Lorion said. “I always recognize kids from previous years who have come back again and again.”
Lorion has organized the event for five years but said it has been taking place for more than a decade with help from members of the Clayton Youth Council. A dozen volunteers helped children with painting, assembling ornaments and beading necklaces.
Children were able to choose from 20 craft projects spread out over two rooms at the Community Center.
Sam Baxter, a student a Corinth Holders High School and a CYC member, stood behind a table helping Baylen Salyers, 3, create a kitten-shaped ornament.
“This is a lot of fun,” said Baxter, 16. “It’s a great way to help kids and to make sure they have a great Christmas.”
Baylen and her mom, Jessica Salyers, were first-time participants. The Smithfield family learned of the event from members of their playgroup.
“Everyone in my group raved about this program and said it was not to be missed,” Jessica Salyers said. “We love making crafts, and everything here is age appropriate.”
Friends Jenna McDonald and Josie Barbour, both 8, were creating matching charm bracelets as gifts to themselves. Accompanied by Jenna’s mom, Ginny, the duo had already spent the morning crafting nearly a dozen holiday gifts and ornaments for loved ones.
“I’m going to give some of the things I made to my mom and grandma,” said Jenna, a second-year attendee.
McGee’s Crossroads resident Ginny McDonald said the family had already hung ornaments made last year on their Christmas tree.
“The kids really love coming here,” she said. “It’s a great program, not just for them, but it also teaches them the importance of giving back and helping others during the holidays.”
At the entrance to one room, CYC member Danielle Ferry, 17, stood ready to accept canned goods. The Clayton High School senior said many families generously donated more than the two-can requirement.
In addition to making crafts, children were treated to cookies, drinks and a visit from Santa Claus.