Third-grade students from Freemansburg and Marvine elementary schools were treated to lunch, gifts and activities that included a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus at the mayor’s recent Christmas tree decorating party.
Cops ‘n’ Kids Children’s Literacy Program joined Santa in this annual celebration, but their purpose was more than providing gifts and treats. Cops ‘n’ Kids’ mission is to connect kids with their communities through literacy, encouraging positive relationships between children and police.
“It was a sight to behold,” said volunteer Louise Young. “Small children being lifted up by police officers to hang ornaments was more than a task completed. This one-on-one close encounter can also be served to lift up the child’s awareness and experience… police are safe, they do care; they are strong, but they are nice.”
Santa’s helpers provided gifts for the event, including pizza from ShopRite, cupcakes made by the NCC culinary school and carols played by Freedom’s Patriot Band. There was also face painting held by the Moravian College Women’s Soccer Team, Bethlehem Police Department, community volunteers, BASD Superintendent, Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce and city officials.
Since 2003, Cops ‘n’ Kids has given away over 713,000 free books, making it largest program of its kind in the nation. The Reading Room located on the Southside in Northampton’s Fowler Center provides a place for children and families to read together, share stories and select a free book to take home.
After decorating the mayor’s tree with ornaments, the children and their teachers gathered around the evergreen to sing Christmas carols with Mayor Bob Donchez.
“It’s true, it takes a village, or a community, to raise a child,” Young said. “But on the Payrow Plaza that day, holding hands around the Christmas tree, it was the children that brought the community together.”