Rotarians’ lunch treat is ‘for the kids’

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – The Niles-Buchanan Rotary Club held its annual holiday luncheon party for the Head Start and Early Learners students at Northside Monday.
The event is held every year and includes lunch with Rotary members, where 100 students were treated to pizza, corn, applesauce and a cookie.
The students also had a chance to visit with Santa Claus and tell him what they are hoping for under their Christmas tree. After pictures and a small conversation, every child received a gift bag, which included a coloring book, crayons, a reading book, a stuffed animal, mittens and Play-Doh.
"It's a wonderful way for the Rotarians and the community to get involved. Each Rotary member sits with two to four children, talks with them and takes them to see Santa. I think the Rotarians enjoy this day more than the students," Northside Principal Cindy Wickham said.
The Ring Lardner choir, Voices Unlimited, provides entertainment every year. However, the luncheon was rescheduled from last week, which caused a schedule conflict with the choir.
"They always put together a great Christmas show. It's too bad they couldn't be with us this year," Jim Meyer said.
Rotarians have been holding the lunch at Northside for morning students for over 20 years, according to Meyers.
The party originated when Rotarians decided they wanted to hold a special party for the Head Start and Early Learners students at Northside.
Among the Rotarians were high school students also dining with the students. Niles Superintendent Doug Law was seated at a table with one of the high school students who also is a cheerleader.
"We were sitting with all girls and as soon as I told them she was a cheerleader, it was like I wasn't even there anymore. They all wanted to be cheerleaders and they focused all their attention on her," Law said.
United Way Executive Director John Stauffer had a very shy little friend by his side when it was time to see Santa.
"She's getting there," Stauffer said to Cheyenne Grayam's teachers as she walked slowly closer to the man in red.
When she finally reached him and received her gift, she was given a round of applause for braveness.
"This is why we do this. It's for the kids and we really enjoy seeing their reactions," Meyer added.