The was all gussied up for a rocking Christmas party for a packed hall of families on Saturday morning.
In the gym were tables clothed alternately in red and green, a buffet of cookies and punch, plenty of room for dancing and games, and the main event: a stage laden with presents that Santa himself would give out – with the help of the Girl Scouts.
The since last May, run by umbrella organization Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WestCOP), and the new energy here and the fresh paint is apparent. The signs on the walls proclaim Family, Diversity, Respect, Honesty, Pride and Integrity in both English and Spanish.
Kristin Lanza, Area Director of the facility, describes herself as a “shameless” promoter of the place as she fires up the diverse crowd of local families with dancing contests, hands out bracelets to all the girls inscribed with words like ‘Dream,’ and gets everyone efficiently through the line to see Santa.
Santa's line apparently took three hours last year, so this year staffmembers really seemed to want to keep things streamlined and those kids happy. Each child received an age-appropriate donated new toy.
The center now houses ESL classes, a mothers' group, the Girl Scouts, career seminars; FEMA is operating a longtime recovery effort out of the place for Hurricane Irene. “There’s life in here,” Lanza said.
The center, she said, is doing "a lot of good outreach" and reaching a wider audience these days. This Friday, COC will host a special luncheon for over 100 local families, sponsored by Prestige Brands who doled out $5,000 for the event. There are also plenty of free donated coats available to the public for these cold winter days.