The , the Danvers Masonic Temple, the Rotary Club of Salem, as well as the the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families have teamed up to provide a holiday celebration this weekend for more than 120 foster children and their families living on the North Shore.
The Festive Christmas for North Shore foster children, who range from newborn to adolescent, is “a beautiful community collaboration,” said Henry Witham, a Calvary Church parishioner and Danvers native.
Witham is spearheading this year’s event with the assistance of a grant for toys from the Rotary Club of Salem, an active partnership with Carla King, the Department of Children and Families’ recruiter and liaison for foster families, and the Danvers Masonic Temple.
“It’s all about giving young children, who are going through a difficult time , a really festive day of Christmas," Witham said.
For ten years the tradition was run by Carla King, but this year she was unsure if she'd be able to do it.
“She was the one who was responsible for all the gift shopping, the wrapping, finding temporary storage for all those toys, and arranging for food donations and entertainment. It was a lot for one person to handle almost single-handedly," Witham said.
But, just as King was ready to throw in the towel, she got a call from the Department of Children and Families in Boston, saying that someone from Calvary Episcopal Church, Danvers, had called to inquire about the church doing something to make a special Christmas for North Shore kids in need.
“Calvary Church, I thought. That’s my church … I grew up going to Calvary,” King said. “Henry’s and Calvary’s offer of time, energy and resources took so much off my shoulders! Henry stepped forward at just the right time. And it’s the church in which I grew up!”
It was meant to be, she said.
So, this past Thanksgiving night, around midnight, Carla King was among the first on Black Friday to select special gifts for the 75-plus foster children in her care who will receive the presents on December 10.
The holiday festival will feature wily magician, Jay Fraser, expert balloon animals maker, Connie Eldridge, as well as cotton candy, popcorn and snow cones machines compliments of “All About Fun,” in Groveland.
Santa will be smiling for photos, which will be shot and printed on site, donated by local portrait photographer and Calvary parishioner, Greg West, of WEPS Photo. The Santa photos will be presented to each child along with a small frame, provided by Calvary’s Rector, the Rev. Thea Keith-Lucas, which each child can decorate and present to a loved one.
Henry Witham says Calvary parishioners will wrap the gifts, purchased with funds from the Salem Rotary Club, tonight, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m., at the Church.
The celebration will be held on Saturday Dec. 10 from 1-3 p.m. at the Danvers Masonic Temple.