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Along with a chance to meet Santa, the students who crowded into the facility had a chance to play with therapy animals, dance to Christmas music and received an early Christmas gift during their visit with Santa.
The Christmas party is one of two major events hosted annually, said Bill Brougher, Rotary president and general manager at Valco Industries. The organization has also hosted a food truck rally in the summer in recent years. But the Rotarians and their families have a long history with the Christmas party, which offers a day of fun and activities for some children who might not get that chance otherwise, Brougher said.
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Rotarians, their families and other volunteers all chip in to make sure each child goes home with a gift each year, he said.
“It’s easy for the Rotarians to be benevolent with their checkbooks,” Brougher said. “This brings a lot more joy to the disabled children in our community.”
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Mickey Edwards, a Rotarian and food and beverage director at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Springfield, has been involved in the party for eight years.
“The best part is the joy of seeing their faces when they get their present from Santa,” Edwards said of the children.