Annual Forest Park Neighborhood Holiday Party
Article by Lindi Conover
For the past three years, the Forest Park Neighborhood Association in Muncie, Indiana, has been hosting its annual Holiday party for families and children in the neighborhood. Each year, the Association raises money and receives donations from local businesses, Muncie residents, and other entities to purchase Christmas gifts for area children.
On December 17th, the Forest Park Neighborhood Association hosted its third annual Christmas party. “This year,” said past president and Holiday Party Chairman Mark Kinman, “every child walked away with three brand new presents or a new bicycle.”
Kiman and another neighborhood association member had considered putting together a neighborhood Christmas party for some time. But in 2015, they finally launched the party and are looking forward to hosting many more to come. Each year, the party has grown in size. This year, 17 families including 32 children attended the party.
The neighborhood group puts an advertisement in the paper and passes out fliers in the fall encouraging families to register their kids, ages 1-12, for the party. Once all the families have registered their children, members of the neighborhood association organize the donated presents to match age groups. Then, using money that has been donated to them from local organizations, they fill in the gaps. The Association accepts donations from the public, and Dialog Church, which meets at the same location that the party is held, also helps to supply presents. Church members help pass out pizza and also supply cookies and other snacks. Papa John’s Pizza on Madison donates the bulk of the dinner through pizzas, which the associate is very grateful for.
Dialog Church, Building Better Neighborhoods, and other private businesses help to collect toy donations, as well as cash contributions to help make sure there are plenty of presents for each child. Muncie Action Plan has also supported the event through a mini-grant they offer to local organizations. This year, each child walked away with three brand new gifts or a new bike.
This party is not only a chance to eat pizza and receive presents, but Santa Claus makes his appearance, only instead of a red sleigh drawn by eight reindeer, he comes in on a big red firetruck! The neighborhood association also has feature entertainment. This year Hedgehog Hannah attended the party and brought along his reptile show. In years past, they’ve hosted a magic show and other kid-friendly entertainment. Neighborhood police officers also attend the event.
When asked why they continue to host the event, Kinman said, “Watching the expression on the kids’ faces and see their parents happy for the kids, that’s why we do. It’s good for our community.”