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Families of special needs children ring in the Christmas spirit

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

The Christmas spirit was alive and well at Waterstone Community Church on Friday night as families of children with special needs gathered for activities, stories, gifts, a visit from Santa and more.

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The Chatfield Senior High School jazz band played Christmas tunes as the kids, their parents and volunteers enjoyed the games and crafts.

Teri Fous, a hairdresser in Littleton, is the mastermind of this controlled chaos — and she moved among the tables and rooms dressed as Cindy Lou Who from Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch.”

Fous started a clothing charity five years ago called the Satriano Project. When she heard that another nonprofit, Night Lights, didn’t have a holiday party for the special needs clients it serves, she stepped in.

Night Lights hosts an evening each month for the children, where each child is paired one-on-one with volunteers, so parents can have a night out.

But at this event, parents stuck around because they had work to do while the kids had fun. Parents were in rooms, selecting donated items for stockings and gifts.

Donna Loomis, aka Mrs. Claus, supervised the gift room because all of the gifts were donated through St. Nicks Ministries, a nonprofit that she, her husband and family have been running for 30 years.

She started the nonprofit when her children were teens as a way to show them the gratification of giving to others. Now, 30 years later, the volunteers shop for toys, school supplies, clothing and other items to help children in need.

Volunteer Elizabeth Hardesty wrapped a huge box, determined to conquer the gift wrapping. She said she enjoyed helping St. Nicks Ministries because the organization had helped her and her family out.

In the main room, children listened to books, did crafts, had snowball fights with cotton batting and baked cookies – sort of. They rolled out dough, put the unbaked cookies into the magic oven, and voila, baked cookies appeared out of the oven.

Then they went to the decorating station to collect frosting and decorations to complete their cookies.

Volunteer Lori Parks enjoyed helping with the magic oven, saying she had known Fous since high school, so she was happy to help out.

Teacher Marcie Weibler was stationed at the book-reading booth, and before children arrived, her audience consisted of a few stuffed friends: the Grinch, his dog Max and a teddy bear. But she was undaunted.

“This is awesome,” she said. “I like to do things like this.”

She also attended to support her son, Peyton, 11, who is the head of the Mortensen Elementary Student Council. A half-dozen Mortensen student council members volunteered at the event.

“We’re helping kids with special needs,” Peyton explained, “so they can have fun.”

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041.