Pine Haven Christian Communities and Sheboygan Falls Kiwanis Club celebrated their first year as coordinators of a Children’s Community Christmas party on December 12th at the Giddings Avenue campus of Pine Haven.
From 2003-2017, an intergenerational Christmas party has been held at Pine Haven, organized by Mary Ann Waldbauer. At last year’s event, Ms Waldbauer announced that she would no longer be able to organize the event each year. But in January, Pine Haven and Sheboygan Falls Kiwanis Club agreed to take on the challenge of running the event moving forward. “It’s such a lovely tradition that Mary Ann put together – we had to keep it going,” said Karin Oliver-Kreft, committee chair for the event. “Seeing young and old come together in the spirit of giving is such a blessing. It’s what Christmas is all about.”
At the event, 24 kids from the Sheboygan Head Start program were selected to participate. Santa (played by Rick Waldbauer) gave each child a stocking filled with donated presents. He also presented each child with a large gift: the 12 boys received a hand-crafted toy wagon and a teddy bear, the 12 girls received a hand-crafted toy cradle and a baby doll. To help the children learn that giving is the meaning of Christmas, each child picked out a stuffed animal from under the tree, which they then gave to someone else. In addition, every family received a laundry basket filled with food to make a family Christmas dinner, and a recipe booklet to help prepare the meal, and some other kitchen items like a towel, an oven mitt, baking pans, and a bowl.
Pine Haven residents look forward to the event each year as their chance to help share the joy of Christmas with area children who might not get much of a Christmas otherwise. They wrap the presents and stuff the stockings to be delivered – and they wear hats and sing along with the children at the event. The seniors truly love watching the faces of the children light up when they see Santa and as they open their presents.
Everyone present enjoyed cookies, carols, and fellowship. Steve Hamer lent his talent as a pianist, to lead everyone in Christmas Carols. Kiwanis club members and Pine Haven staff passed out the goodies and assisted families with the gifts they received.
Preparations for this event require a year-long effort. Kiwanis members reached out to the community to gather donations. Toothbrushes and toothpaste for each child was donated by Midwest Dental in Plymouth. Sheboygan Falls High School students cut out all the pieces for the cradles, using wood left over from previous years’ events where the cradles were constructed by Rick Waldbauer. These pieces were then assembled and painted by the local Boy Scouts. The wagons were made and donated by Steven and Karin Kreft, using the patterns which were used in previous years by Dave Goelzer. Dolls were donated by the Sheboygan Clinical Pediatrics Department. Teddy Bears were donated by the Sheboygan Falls Kiwanis Club. Stuffed animals, toys for stockings, blankets for cradles, hats, scarves, mittens, and stockings were donated by Kiwanis members on the event committee: Mary Blaha, MaryAnn Dolson, Sheila Kloepping, Randy & Tammy Meyer, Greg Monson, Mary Ellen Schmidley, and Jill Spielvogel, as well as through donation boxes placed at Pine Haven. Food for the family Christmas dinners was purchased with help from Blattner’s Piggly Wiggly, via a very generous donation by Plenco.
(See article in the Sheboygan Press on this event.)