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Kiwanis hosts kids annual holiday party

By Staff | Dec 14, 2017

More than 200 students came to the Cape Coral Yacht Club on Wednesday for the Cape Coral Kiwanis’s 39th annual Christmas party featuring Santa Claus, a clown, juggler, ventriloquist, music and presents.

The Cape Coral Police brought a motorcycle, and Santa came in a fire truck, which dropped him off before going out on a call.

The students, who were between the ages of 3 and teenaged, came by bus, which for some was nearly as exciting than the party itself.

Mick Sheldrake, president of the Kiwanis of Cape Coral, said this is one of their signature projects for children.

“Our mission has always been to change the world one child and one community at a time, and this is one of the ways we do that,” Sheldrake said. “Some of these kids live in group homes. This could be their Christmas, so we want to make sure it’s a special event for everyone here.”

The Kiwanis were fully represented by the Key Club for high schoolers, Builders Club for middle schoolers, and the Aktion Club of older special needs students. They helped get the party-goers seated, served the food and entertained them if need be.

Victoria Stover, a member of Trafalgar Middle School and the Builders Club vice president, said they wanted to help out for such a fun event.

“Seeing the kids faces when we give them the food is so rewarding. It feels good when you’re helping someone else,” Stover said, whose groups also does work around the area of the school, working on the garden and handing out food from there.

Teachers were excited as well.

Liuba Rodriguez, a preschool teacher for students who have developmental delays at J. Colin English Elementary in North Fort Myers, said it was an exciting experience for the children.

Shona Toles, life skills teacher at Cape Elementary, said community based field trips such as this are priceless.

“They socialize and do things they don’t ordinarily get to do. It not only gets them to do something outside of school, but it also shows them there are kids just like them,” Toles said. “We’ve been talking about this for weeks and they couldn’t wait to get on the bus.”

“They are super excited. Some of them had never been on a school bus, so the ride was fun for them and we’re enjoying the party from the Kiwanis,” Rodriguez said. “They’re excited to see Santa.”

“We look forward to this annually. It gives the kids a chance to interact, be social and see students we had four or five years ago,” said Joie Jackson, a pre-K teacher at Tropic Isles Elementary. “This is something we couldn’t afford at the school. Kiwanis gives these kids a chance to have this experience.”

Brenda Stelser and her puppet Yo-Yo entertained the students, something she has done for more than 20 years.

“No, I’m only 3,” Yo-Yo said. “I never grow up. I’m looking for Santa.”

“This is my fourth year and I’m so fortunate to be part of this because Kiwanis puts on such a wonderful event and I can’t think of anything better to do for the holidays than to help children,” Stelser said.