Kids, dogs, adults have festive day

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gathered around McGee and Abby, children listened to a Christmas story called “Nighty Night, Baby Jesus” with these furry friends at the Y.M.C.A. of Selma-Dallas County on Tuesday.

Thirty children kindergarten to age 12 participated in a Christmas themed art day with activities such as painting pictures of Santa, caroling around the center, decorating cookies with icing and sprinkles, watching Christmas movies and afternoon swimming all day Tuesday.

“We even have a gift wrapping contest,” said Yasmin McKinney, executive director of the Y.M.C.A. “They’re enjoying it. It’s good to see a lot of kids in the building.”

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Local artists Teresa Cammack and Nancy Zacardi visited the children, Cammack lead the children in painting Santa pictures and Zacardi led the children in creating homemade wreaths from kudzu.

Julie Oliver, owner of McGee, was excited to participate in the Christmas event because she also is involved with the children in the afternoon care program with the Y.M.C.A. She and McGee visit every Thursday as part of Tail Wagging Tutors, and event he has come to love.

“It’s just like he’s born with it,” Oliver said. “He loves to go to nursing home and he loves kids.”

McGee was dressed with a red coat decorated with bells, and even had green polish on his toes.

Oliver recently learned how to groom her pets and thought McGee could have a little extra Christmas decoration with polished toes. Grooming is relaxing for Oliver, and will save her money because she has 10 cats and 11 dogs, in addition to the chickens and llamas at her home in Jones.

Abigail Lane and Laney Holladay spent the day at the Y.M.C.A. event.

“I wanted to be with my friends,” Holladay said. She and Lane are on vacation from school and knew school friends would be in attendance.

“I thought it would be really fun to see a dog fall asleep when you’re reading to it,” Lane said. “And I love arts and crafts.”

The Claude C. Brown Y.M.C.A. sponsored an afternoon Kids’ Café for children kindergarten to 12th grade with holiday crafts, reading with the dogs of Tail Wagging Tutors and ending with a family Christmas dinner.

Children were also given a chance to pick out a present for Christmas from the assortment of items donated by members of the local volunteers from the AARP then wrapped the gift so the children can take it home and unwrap it on Christmas.

“They come in like they are shopping,” said Evelyn Cox, president of the local AARP chapter. “We did this because I knew there was a need. So, I suggested that my membership donate a toy for the children.”

The group does not have fundraisers or grant money, so the gifts were from the personal funding of the members. “The members just give from their own heart,” Cox said.

Other organizations also donated items for the children, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Selma High School SGA, Mayor’s Youth Council, Dollar Tree, Operation Home Front and Marvin’s.

This is the first year the Y.M.C.A. has hosted these event, but from the amount of interest in it, the staff will consider holding the event again next year.