OGDEN -- Several area high school and college service groups teamed up to make a wonderful day for children and the families of the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation.
About 200 attended the Saturday morning Christmas tradition for the group. The event was set up a little bit differently this year.
Foundation President Suzie Davis wanted to give local youth groups a chance to serve, and to let the families in the foundation serve and have fun at the same time. So instead of just having breakfast with Santa, several stations were set up for people to try new tasks.
One of the most popular was the station to make cards for soldiers serving throughout the world. Davis said she saw the idea at a seminar and believed it would be a huge success, which it was.
"It was so cute to see what the kids came up with and how proud they were of their cards," Davis said.
Stations to make gingerbread houses, take pictures with Santa or have breakfast also were available, with different groups helping at each table. Students from the Future Educators of America chapters from Ogden and Weber school districts were on hand as well as university students from the Weber State University campus chapter.
The Ogden High Chapter of Family Career and Community Leaders of America served breakfast to everyone, and the Health Occupations Students of America Ogden High chapter also were on hand to help out.
Adults with Down syndrome performed at the event, and the HOSA group helped with that. Earlier this year, the group raised more than $2,000 to help pay for the adult group to go to Disneyland to perform.
Davis said everyone enjoyed the day and she feels the goal of spreading Christmas cheer not only to the children with Down syndrome, but to everyone, was reached.
"One of the ideas is to let the brothers and sisters of kids with Down syndrome to get out and have a good time. We like to have things there for them to do," Davis said.
There was a happy, working hum in the commons area at Ogden High on Saturday morning as activities got under way. When Santa jingled in, many participants stopped and clapped and cheered. Some of the Down syndrome kids came up and hugged Santa or shook his hand. All the children smiled as they stood in line to take pictures and sit on Santa's lap.
Joan Iverson, the FEA adviser in Weber School District, brought several students to help out. She laughed at the idea that it might be hard to get kids to take part in the event.
"When you're making gingerbread houses, they are thrilled to get involved," she said, grinning. When she brought up the idea in class a couple of weeks ago, Iverson said the students could barely contain themselves when coming up with ideas of what they wanted to do.
Stephanie Heath, the WSU FEA adviser, said her students really enjoy this type of event.
"I've had some come from as far as North Salt Lake to participate. They love to come," she said. Her chapter has helped with the Down Syndrome Foundation's spring exercise activity, which also is a great success.
That's why Stephanie-Jo Green was so excited to attend. The WSU student helped with the spring event and didn't think twice about coming to the Christmas activities. She was helping make the cards for the soldiers.
"It's kind of like killing two birds with one stone," she said, regarding not only making cards for soldiers, but helping someone else do that.
"These kids are so enthusiastic, it's hard not to love doing it," she said.
Sharon Hinchcliff always enjoys attending the Breakfast with Santa event with her daughter, Elanor, who sings in the adult Down syndrome performing group.
"It's a little different this year, and I think it's wonderful," Hinchcliff said. She really liked the idea of having her daughter do something for someone else.
Elanor loved it, too, and proudly held up her card for everyone around to see.
"It's so good, and I just love people," Elanor said with a huge smile.