December 21st, 2014 / posted by paularath
Santa and Mrs. Claus pose with a Palama family in the Palama gym.

Santa and Mrs. Claus pose with a Palama family in the Palama gym.

Sorry I had to pull my recent post about wrapping gifts for the Palama Community Christmas Party. I didn’t know that the generous company and its employees who helped with wrapping gifts and decorating the gym had asked for total anonymity. After our Palama staff told me that, I thought I’d better pull the blog right away.

The Palama Christmas party is one of my favorite events of the year. There was so much excitement and anticipation as the keiki and their families lined up all around our football field.

The party was, as always, a resounding success. About 500 – 700 families attended and every keiki under the age of 12 received a wrapped gift from Santa. (Mahalo to Toys for Tots!) For many of our neighborhood keiki, this will be the only gift they receive this year.

Palama scholarship students serve as Santa's elves.

Palama scholarship students serve as Santa’s elves.

Palama Settlement scholarship students volunteer as Santa’s elves, running back and forth with age- and gender-appropriate gifts for each child. This year we gave out 45 scholarships – a record number – and each student volunteers to give Palama eight hours of volunteer time during the year. The party is one of their favorite volunteer opportunities.

Hale is one of our many scholarship success stories. A freshman at Punahou, he is a rising football star and the national fire dance champion in his age group.

Hale is one of our many scholarship success stories. A freshman at Punahou, he is a rising football star and the national fire dance champion in his age group.

After the families visit Santa, they go into another section of the gym for entertainment and lucky prize drawings.

Entertainment is provided by keiki hula, fire dance and other cultural dance groups from Palama and the housing projects we serve.

David Kawada, who heads up our Recreational Division, served as emcee.

David Kawada, who heads up our Recreational Division, served as emcee. He readies himself to give away hundreds of gifts.

We receive an amazing outpouring of gifts from companies and community groups. Bikes, bags of rice, stuffed animals and baskets of toiletries are among the most coveted gifts.

The bleachers began to fill up early with folks hoping they held a lucky number.

The bleachers began to fill up early with folks hoping they held a lucky number.

Mrs. Santa had a hug for every keiki.

Mrs. Santa had a huge heartfelt hug for every keiki.

An up-and-coming male model practices his sultry look.

An up-and-coming male model practices his look.

The Palama Settlement Community Christmas Party epitomizes the Christmas spirit for me.

Mele Kalikimaka!

– Paula Rath

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