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Volunteers Talk About the Children’s Holiday Party

Among the numerous and diverse volunteering tasks at the WB Family Network, the Children’s Holiday Party is a unique experience. 

Preparation starts calmly for the team in early September, when the weather is still hot in DC, and December is several months and seasons away. The year’s theme and logistics (e.g., food, decorations, coordinating with the WBG’s Security unit and Conference Services, and entertainment) are worked on.

As the date of the party approaches, the pressure begins for the team. For example, decorating the MC Atrium, a huge space, can only be done right before the party itself. Crowd flow is vital. Last year there were about 450 children and the same number of adults. Keeping this number of people moving safely between face painting, Santa, and cookie decoration (to name only a few of the attractions) is no small task. What about Santa--how do you schedule 450 individual photos with him? And who is brave enough to stay in that suit for three hours?

Last year over 100 volunteers worked on the day of the party itself. It was exhausting, but also incredibly rewarding to know they had made it possible for the entire WBG community in DC to gather and enjoy a kid-centered event. 

We asked volunteers from the last few years for their impressions and reflections, because working on the Children’s Holiday Party (CHP) is unforgettable!

Laila
My favorite CHP was last year, with the tree made from recycling bins in the MC atrium. And the snow confetti that everyone was playing in was great!  Also it's sweet seeing the little kids so excited to meet Santa.

Camilla
For me, it’s the people. Teenagers from the Teen Summer Program, which I had worked on, came to volunteer and it was so exciting to see them again. In addition, I really liked seeing the kids share their crafts with their families.

Chandni
Volunteering for the 2017 holiday party was my first and best event. Painting is my hobby and I love spending time with kids, so I put the two together and volunteered for face painting and what a joy it was! The stories each child had to share, the patience and anxiety they had and finally the big thank-you smiles, which melted my heart each time. I still remember a little girl who asked me to make her a butterfly with flowers around it. I don’t know how good my effort was, but she was so happy and was smiling ear to ear. Then, there was a little boy who came up and asked me to make him into Harry Potter. When I looked flustered, he offered to teach me. I did it exactly as my teacher instructed, and when he saw himself, he told me I had done a good job. Then and there I received my reward. And to end this all, the staff of the WBFN treated me with such warmth and appreciation that I felt like a star and not a volunteer! Looking forward to more of such wonderful times…
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El Batoule
I remember the spirit of the parties, the joy and happiness of the teams working together with their hearts. I remember also the creativity of the organizing teams who prepared the party with love and passion (despite the small budget). 
All the spirit of Christmas was translated in the children’s faces. You can see it in the photos!

Thaís
First of all, I’d like to say that I miss the team!
I loved to participate in the organization and the big day of the CHP. It was very interesting to know different people and cultures. I loved spreading pieces of paper on the floor in the main hall. It is also amazing to remember when Leila placed the recycling trash can at the top of the tree. What I know is that I’ll keep those great moments for good in my heart, I really found what I was looking for: good vibes, charity, respect, true smiles and love. Thanks so much WBFN! To be a volunteer made me a better person, for sure.

Sara
For me the most memorable moment was having the group photograph taken. It's when all the volunteers rush from their posts to gather together. What a fun way to begin the Holiday Party.

Adelia
The moment I appreciated the most in my four years of participation at the CHP happened in 2016. Participants were invited to put a sticker on a world map pointing out the country and region they were from. This was a very simple activity right at the main entrance, but at the same time it engaged all members of the families--kids and adults--and gave them a really warm welcome. The Social Media Team registered a variety of emotions on their faces, followed by big smiles, and a real moment for connecting to their roots as a family. 

Suri
I don't know why I keep on volunteering for CHP because every year I feel like I can’t possibly do this again! I guess the adrenalin of creating something massive and fun to spread happiness during the holiday season is what motivates me. Not to mention all those special people involved in this project who share their enthusiasm, ideas, creativity and most of all, pour their hearts into it.
I have tons of memories from each CHP. From the simple “ta-da” moment when finding the right material for the decoration, to meeting every one of the hundreds of volunteers that help out during the events—getting to know them, assigning them to their posts and sharing their excitement for the day as well as hearing their complaints! There is also the “hooray” moment when the event is over and we’ve learned our lessons. We go home exhausted yet tremendously satisfied by the excitement in the eyes and happiness we see not only in the children’s faces, but also in the parents and volunteers. But a special memory that will linger was the “bonding” time with my father-in-law, who built the recycled train from used cardboard boxes that was part of the decoration. It was a sweet one and rare.
So, thank you WBFN for holding events that create opportunities for members to make friends, to grow, to learn, to create, to have fun, but most of all, to share and spread joy!

Matsuku
It was really great preparing the origami, folding with friends while chatting. Working on the team, I met other people. And then teaching origami to the kids at the party. I couldn’t stay to clean up…that must be a hard job!

Lorenzo
There’s a moment which really says everything about why working on this event is meaningful for me. It was while the party was taking place. A lot of volunteers were helping: someone with the food, someone at the entrance, someone at the booths. Kyoko was at the origami booth, teaching the little ones how to create paper puppets and boxes, and her daughter, Saki, was also there. Saki was joyful and ran around with her friends. At one point she passed closed to me and I noticed a sign on her back: "I am Saki, please take me to origami table". I think this is the perfect example of the cheerful and carefree (and safe) spirit of the CHP. I may still have a picture of that sign!!!

Angela 
I’m ready to volunteer this year again! 

Velentyn
Christmas and New Year time in Ukraine is normally filled with celebrations and gatherings. While being away overseas, I miss my family and friends very much at Christmas. The CHP gives me an opportunity to be a part of celebrations which are familiar to me. I’ve volunteered twice, each time helping with registration at the entrance. The very first greetings and instructions on the event to our little participants and their parents come from me. And I am happy to do it, because it reminds me of the spirit of the holidays I used to have at home--welcoming guests into our house.