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Joshua Thomas
Harry Hoag students Sarah LaComb (left) and Molli Bates visit with Santa Claus during Elves Night Out.

Joshua Thomas
Santa's elves entertain Gage Bock with some jingling bells.

Joshua Thomas
Maicee Thomas readies herself for a visit with Santa Claus during Elves Night Out.

Joshua Thomas
Children's Musician Terri Roben plays for kids at Elves Night Out.


Elves Night Out readies kids for Christmas

Thursday, December 26, 2013 - Updated: 8:27 AM


C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- On Thursday evening, the Harry Hoag Elementary School was abuzz with holiday energy as the Fifth Annual Elves Night Out took place, kids stopping in the library to visit with Santa Claus, singing songs and participating in craft workshops, amongst other activities.

Parent Teacher Association President Theresa Travis said the event provides an opportunity to "hype up Christmas for the kids." Typically, Elves Night Out has featured a few games and limited vendors, but this year, the gymnasium was packed with vendors, which, according to Travis, "had last minute christmas gifts that were unique and different," and the event expanded to include musical entertainment by LADY, who led numerous sing-a-longs. The kids crowded around her on the floor of the cafeteria, each with a different musical instrument, and sang along to recognizable classics.

This year, the event also welcomed more community involvement. In the months prior to the event, the PTA put out word that they were looking for coat and winter item donations. They received plenty, including hats and gloves, which were cleaned, then distributed to guests Thursday.

The giveaway, during which 3/4 of the donated items were provided to locals, was spearheaded by Caring Kids, a school group that fundraises for charitable local organizations.

The Secret Santa Sale also took place Thursday, wherein kids were able to buy inexpensive gifts for their loved ones. Aside from providing cheap, cool gifts, the Secret Santa Sale also provides a useful education, including how to budget. Volunteers even wrapped presents for those who purchased items in the store.

For the first time, Santa Claus gave away gifts -- a stuffed animal -- to each chid. Santa gave out about 3/4 of the 168 presents purchased by the PTA.

This year's event had the highest educator participation yet, Travis noted, with ten teachers involved in various activities, from baking, to running the "Photos with Santa Claus" event. "We're so grateful for the teacher support," said Travis, who noted that Elves Night Out is a huge undertaking which requires two months of planning -- booking vendors, pre-ordering gifts for the kids and the Secret Santa Sale, and reserving the school's facilities.

Travis said she's incredibly enthused about the success of this and other student-created events, wherein 100 percent of proceeds benefit the students and upcoming events. She commented, "I want to thank the community for coming out and supporting us, because that's the reason for the event -- the kids."

Joshua Thomas - Gage Bock presents his mother with a holiday card he made during Elves Night Out.

Joshua Thomas - Maicee Thomas hugs her grandfather, James Thomas, during Elves Night Out.


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