I’m not sure I can remember a time when there’s been so many Arts & Smarts program celebrations all within about a week.
It all started on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving when the Arts & Smarts staff cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for the children. It included ham, green beans, mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry relish, and even a pumpkin pie. The children, staff, volunteers, and parents all sat down together at a very big table to share the things that they were thankful for and to share in the family style meal.
After eating together, the children participated in their bi-annual Art & Company Business Meeting at which they learned the total amount of money that their “company” earned at this year’s Holiday Sale, the costs for their supplies, and the profit that they would be sharing. Afterward, each child met with Jane to receive a check with their profit share.
The next Wednesday, we were celebrating again. This time it was our belated Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade. The children have been working on life-sized body puppets that are made of fabric, stuffed, and painted with skeleton designs inspired by the festive skeletons that are part of Mexican Dia de los Muertos celebrations. With the addition of some skeleton T-shirts and hats, the group was ready to parade around the block which they did in fine fashion.
The biggest celebration came with our annual Arts & Smarts Christmas party on Thursday. Our staff and volunteers set up stations for making paper chains and Christmas cards. There was space to sing Christmas songs with Lynn from Aldersgate. Marilyn played Mary in the retelling of the Christmas story, and there was a place to make an old Patchwork favorite: okra-sickles—the perfect way to use okra that’s grown way too big to eat.
Topping it all off was the Christmas Store where Arts & Smarts participants could shop for gifts for their families. The items in the store had been purchased by our teens on Tuesday during a fabulous shopping spree funded by a grant from Youth Resources. The teens chose items for moms, dads, sisters, and brothers. On Thursday, adults helped the children choose the perfect gifts and wrap them.
Thirty-eight bags of gifts went home with children with many of the bags going out the door slung over the children’s shoulders like Santa’s pack.
Sprinkle in some gingerbread house decoration (to music from the Nutcracker, no less), creating a video using stop-motion animation, and mini corn dogs, and a great couple weeks were had by all.
The Arts & Smarts program is now on break until January 2 when we return for the spring semester!