American Legion carries on tradition


Nearly 300 students attend Christmas party Wednesday

By Martin Graham - mgraham@recordherald.com



Several of the toys that were donated or purchased to give to the students following the party.

Several of the toys that were donated or purchased to give to the students following the party.


Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

Teachers, administrators and volunteers helped to pass out lunch which consisted of hot dogs, juice, chips and ice cream.


Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

During the party, student Zakiah helped magician David Newell with one of his tricks.


Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

Elaine Stalsworth — Needy Kids Christmas Party chairman — poses with Santa Claus (portrayed by Eddie Fisher) on Wednesday during the party.


Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

Santa Claus (portrayed by Eddie Fisher) met with each student to ask them what they want for Christmas and help them find a toy.


Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

Students from Cherry Hill Primary and Miami Trace Elementary School were treated to a Christmas Party on Wednesday morning at the American Legion Post 25.


Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

Nearly 300 students from local schools were treated to a morning Christmas party at the American Legion Post 25 on Wednesday morning.

According to Elaine Stalsworth, Needy Kids Christmas Party chairman, the Christmas party was started by Dr. Pfersick in 1954 to give economically-disadvantaged Fayette County children a “magical Christmas experience.” About 150 students from Miami Trace Elementary School and 150 from Cherry Hill Primary were in attendance.

This year, the students enjoyed a magic show by magician David Newell as well as a lunch of hot dogs, chips, juice and ice cream. Following lunch and the show, students were then greeted by Santa Claus, who asked them one by one what they would like for Christmas and gave them one of many toys purchased or donated for the event. Each kid would then go on to receive numerous other items including gloves, hats and more before returning to the bus and heading back to school.

Dr. Pfersick’s daughter, Donna Kelley, also took time to join the party Wednesday and was extremely thankful to the Legionnaires for their continued support of the party and of Fayette County youth.

“I remember years ago seeing my dad and other men working away to fix broken and used toys that were donated so the kids could have wonderful presents,” Kelley said. “He was always giving and that is how he taught us. I know many years we would open presents on Christmas and my dad would get a call about several families whose kids did not get any toys. So he would come in and ask us to pick out what we wanted to keep and what we would want to give to some of these kids. He would dress up as Santa Claus and sing Christmas carols and he was so full of Christmas. He taught us to love and respect everyone, which is why we always loved to give presents to those who could use them more.”

Kelley went on to say that she is indebted to the American Legion Post 25 for their efforts to continue the party her father started almost 66 years ago. She reminisced for a moment about the party and how it has changed over that time.

“The Legionnaires have been carrying on this tradition for many years — I know dad has been gone now for 45 years,” Kelley said. “The Legionnaires here care for everyone and have made the event bigger and bigger. I remember years ago when the wives of the Legionnaires would have to take kids home. I know I even drove kids home before years ago from the event. It really has changed, grown and it’s all thanks to the American Legion.”

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.

Several of the toys that were donated or purchased to give to the students following the party.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/12/web1_IMG_0699.jpgSeveral of the toys that were donated or purchased to give to the students following the party. Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

Teachers, administrators and volunteers helped to pass out lunch which consisted of hot dogs, juice, chips and ice cream.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/12/web1_IMG_0717.jpgTeachers, administrators and volunteers helped to pass out lunch which consisted of hot dogs, juice, chips and ice cream. Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

During the party, student Zakiah helped magician David Newell with one of his tricks.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/12/web1_IMG_0720.jpgDuring the party, student Zakiah helped magician David Newell with one of his tricks. Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

Elaine Stalsworth — Needy Kids Christmas Party chairman — poses with Santa Claus (portrayed by Eddie Fisher) on Wednesday during the party.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/12/web1_IMG_0725.jpgElaine Stalsworth — Needy Kids Christmas Party chairman — poses with Santa Claus (portrayed by Eddie Fisher) on Wednesday during the party. Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

Santa Claus (portrayed by Eddie Fisher) met with each student to ask them what they want for Christmas and help them find a toy.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/12/web1_IMG_0729.jpgSanta Claus (portrayed by Eddie Fisher) met with each student to ask them what they want for Christmas and help them find a toy. Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos

Students from Cherry Hill Primary and Miami Trace Elementary School were treated to a Christmas Party on Wednesday morning at the American Legion Post 25.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/12/web1_IMG_0712.jpgStudents from Cherry Hill Primary and Miami Trace Elementary School were treated to a Christmas Party on Wednesday morning at the American Legion Post 25. Martin Graham | Record-Herald photos
Nearly 300 students attend Christmas party Wednesday

By Martin Graham

mgraham@recordherald.com