Allie’s Place Family Residence buzzed with festive cheer at the second annual holiday party hosted by RAP4Bronx. With a hot cocoa station, holiday crafts, sweet treats, and gifts for the children, the celebration was the perfect way to bring families together in the spirit of the holidays.

“It’s a way to bring holiday cheer during this time and a great way for the families to participate in activities with their children—which is extremely important,” said Director of Afterschool & Recreation David Belmar. “It’s [also] a way for families to connect with other families in the building—which provides support and relief.”

Shana McCormick, Executive Director of RAP4Bronx, shared a similar sentiment, emphasizing the importance of including parents in on the festivities.

“Having a safe space where parents and/or guardians are able to partake in the activities is important because they too need a break from everyday stresses, a chance to get in the holiday spirit and moreover—they get to witness the joy on the children’s faces, and that joy is infectious,” said Shana. “We hold these events to spread holiday cheer and love. It’s as simple—yet equally as important—as that!”

The room was filled with joy as families worked together to craft colorful decorations and chatted about the upcoming holidays over warm cups of cocoa. One mother expressed her surprise that her daughter felt so comfortable at the event.

“She has autism so certain things are hard for her. She is not used to being around a lot of people, so being here [in a new environment] is a little hard. Seeing her like this—calm—it makes me happy. I didn’t expect this,” she said.

Another mother shared her excitement about spending quality time with her child in a festive setting.

“I like just having fun with her. She is so excited about Christmas,” said the mom, Ariel.

The RAP4Bronx team was assisted by volunteers from M&T Bank and Spring Scaffolding, who welcomed the families and lent helping hands with the crafts—including assembling holiday chains and making ornaments.

“I think the families greatly benefited from the volunteers being very hands on and very engaging,” said David Belmar. “We are very grateful for RAP4Bronx doing this for a second year in a row.”

Later in the afternoon, the Afterschool & Rec kids joined in on the fun. They were all smiles as they took polaroid photos in front of the twinkling lights of the decorated tree and transformed them into picture frame ornaments.

“I had a lot of good parts [today]. My favorite part is when I took a picture and made it into an ornament,” said one student, Noah. “Another thing that I like is making the chain.”

“[My favorite part is] the people—because there are so many emotions in this room,” said student Fahtima. “I just like the emotions in the room: excited, happy—just chill.”

A special thanks to RAP4Bonx and volunteers for setting the joyful stage for the Allie’s Place community to come together. The holiday bash was a hit all around—families, staff, and volunteers alike left with merry memories of the gathering.

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