Christmas party nets gift donations
By MARTIN RAND III The Brunswick News
After reading about a special type of secret Santa gift-swapping party where all the presents are donated, Rachel Fitzpatrick of Brunswick thought it would be a good idea to have one of her own.
Using her background knowledge in event planning and her sheer love of throwing parties, she changed it to something that would work for her and the community.
"I thought (the party) was kind of cool," said Fitzpatrick. "I knew it wouldn't work as a secret Santa swap because I have such a diverse group of friends from all over the place, so they wouldn't know each other, but I could still have all my friends come over and bring presents."
Fitzpatrick had her guests buy gifts for the children of the families she sponsors during the holidays.
And the "Don't Be A Scrooge Party," or the "Bah Humbug Bash," as it's also called, was born.
The annual shindig just completed its fourth year and saw toys and clothes bought for three families with multiple children. Two of the families Fitzpatrick sponsored through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program.
"It's gotten pretty big," she said.
The number of children receiving gifts from the party rose from seven in the first year to 15 in 2012.
Bringing a smile to a child's face after believing Santa Claus paid their home a visit the night before Christmas is part of the magic of the holiday season that Fitzpatrick is trying capture.
She sees it in the face of her 8 year old son, Caleb, after he unwrapped his gifts at home.
Bringing this same joy to a family less fortunate is worth the extra work, says Fitzpatrick.
"There's something magical about Christmas," she said. "I still believe in the magic of Christmas, and in my heart, I still want kids to feel that."
The 33-year-old Brunswick native thanks God, her family, her friends and everyone else that comes to the party to support the event the past couple of years.
"This is where I'm from. I think that's part of my ability to gather people because all my friends are from here," said Fitzpatrick. "Probably the best part for me is seeing how excited people get about giving. I think that's why I do it."
* Coastal People appears Mondays. Contact Martin Rand III at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 324 to suggest a person for a column.