On Monday, December 18th, 165 students, from both Cherry Hill East and Cherry Hill West, threw a holiday party for approximately 450 disabled children in the area. For many years, East students have contributed to this worthy cause.
This year, the party at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill was once again a complete success.
“Even if the party [was] a complete catastrophe, it still would have been a success because what we’re doing for those kids is so great,” said Mr. Michael Dappolone, East’s SGA Adviser. Both Dappolone and Mr. C.J. Davis, the SGA Coordinator of Students’ Activities, supervised the event.
Before the party took place, students made several tedious preparations. Beginning in November, students from all grades began coming after school to make decorations or table settings for the holiday party. East students came right after school until 4:30, or on some nights, from 7:00 to 8:30. Every student checked in and signed out at the appropriate times with the chairperson who was in charge of them. The chair people included Andrew Kanoff (’07), who was overall chairperson, along with Corey Kessler (’07), Becky Kaplan (’07), Britney Linsky (’07), Josh Weinstock (’07), Niyati Desai (’07), Jackie Chang (’08), Andy Cutler (’07), and Grace Yi (â€™07).
After the students completed the initial preparations, the chair people chose the students who they felt were most dedicated; this decision is usually determined by the number of after-school meetings the student attended. Those who were chosen came on the 18th to help out with the party.
Some of those who were chosen voluntarily came the night before the party to help put up decorations and set up the tables. For about two hours, these East students were hard at work. Together, they put up decorations inside and outside of the party room.
The party’s tables also contained a centerpiece with balloons, 10 chairs with a table setting in front of each, and three snacks per setting. These specifications took a while to meet, but with the students’ efforts, it was made possible.
Finally, after months of preparation, the party kicked off successfully on December 18. At 9:00, the disabled students, their aids, and their mentors came in, with smiles already on their faces upon seeing the decorated room. As the day went on, more kids came, and more and more kids were made happier. With a skilled singer on stage, the kids danced to their favorite holiday songs.
Throughout the day, East and West students dressed up in various costumes, ranging from Shrek to a dragon to a reindeer.
Also, East brought along some of their talented mimes to play with the children.
“It was fun to interact with them. It was cool that even though we couldn’t talk, they still understood us,” said Emma Simon (’08), who was a mime for the day.
Besides dressing up, dancing and being mimes, East students also were in charge of certain designated tables. The students had to make sure their assigned tables had enough food and drinks at all times.
The last surprise that the kids enjoyed was a visit from the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jon Runyan. Runyan came and signed autographs for around an hour, to to the party-givers and the party-goers’ delight.
Overall, the day brightened the outwardly difficult daily lives of disabled children during the holiday season.
“Seeing the smiles on all of the kids’ faces [made the day so special],” said Kanoff (’07).