Holiday Party at CYO

It is no small feat to plan and execute a holiday party for over 30 elementary and middle school students. CYO staff did so yesterday with the help of volunteers (most of whom were high school students) and Immaculate Conception Parish. The party was complete with holiday music, snacks, an assembly line for constructing cookies, and presents and gift cards supplied by parishioners of Immaculate Conception.

After cookies and games, all of the kids were seated, awaiting gifts, which were to be handed out by staff and volunteers.

“Now, what do we say to people who give us nice things?” one staff member, Maddie, called over the room.

“THANK YOU!” thirty-odd kids chorused back.

“Yes, we say ‘thank you,’” Maddie confirmed. “Now, we are going to hand out presents.” Most kids nodded their understanding. “You will take the paper off, but you will not open the thing inside until you get home. Yes? You take off the paper, but you do not open.”

Most kids eagerly nodded their understanding, but a few of the younger ones or ones who had arrived in the US more recently, frowned in slight confusion. Maddie promptly appointed two of the older students in the room to translate in the necessary languages. Any lingering confusion cleared up, and attention turned back to the presents.

CYO participants speak dozens of languages; learning English is, for many, a third or fourth language. Staff members can cover most of the languages and children often learn quickly between school and CYO. Yesterday, the common language of cookies and holiday fun carried the day whenever language fell a bit short.

We are deeply grateful to the hard-working staff and volunteers who made yesterday’s party possible and to Immaculate Conception Church for their generosity. From all of us at Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, we wish you and yours all the joys of the season!

Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications Manager

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