What has been a multi-decade tradition of assisting area families continues this weekend in Albuquerque, thanks to Carlisle Bennet American Legion Post 13.
The post is again hosting its children’s Christmas party, this year on Dec. 10. In addition to pizza, games and an appearance from Mr. and Mrs. Claus, around 200 children will be given new toys courtesy of the post’s American Legion Riders’ chapter’s recent toy round-up.
“I’ve been here 11 years, and this has been going on way before me,” said Post 13 Legionnaire Linda McLain, who serves as the post’s manager. “I would say (it’s been going on) the past 20 to 30 years.”
The toy round-up leading up to the party is a collaborative effort with the community, which includes toy donations from Post 13’s Legion Family and people outside the Legion, as well as financial donations that the post uses to purchase additional toys.
At the party, a local JROTC group provides face painting and helps run the games at the party. And Santa and his wife arrive with a special contingent. “Every year the Legion Riders escort Mr. and Mrs. Claus in,” McLain said. “We line the kids up on the north side of the building so they can see them escort them in.”
The party is open to any families with children ages 12 and younger. And the annual Christmas party isn’t the only way Post 13 assists local families. “We do Halloween parties. We do Easter parties. We do back-to-school events,” McLain said. “It’s something we do in the community every year.
“This is all part of our Children & Youth program. You have to have a passion to give back to the community to make things like this happen. Things are tight for a lot of families.”