Story by Lon Tytell
The Warwick Valley Knights of Columbus Council #4962 hosted their fifth annual Breakfast with Santa on Sat., Dec. 10 at the St. Stephen-St. Edward School gym and 125 children and their families attended. Volunteers from the Knights, family members, the Columbiettes and youth from the parish all helped to make the event a success. Attendees enjoyed waffles, sausages and potatoes thanks to the donation of ShopRite of Warwick.
Knights co-chair Bob Long expressed his thanks to Father Jack Arlotta, school principal Bethany Negersmith, school secretary Jill Lewis, and custodian Rich Held for their support. Chris Rosado from Allen Christopher Professional Photography Software donated his time and service to provide a free photo of each child with Santa.
Knight Ernie Nitschke, who served as co-chair, felt it was important to share this project with the community. Master of ceremonies Linda Byrons explained that the Knights wanted to have families come together and have fun while celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.
Community volunteers, Kristin Wadeson and Lauren Buturla, wrapped donated toys with the help of the Columbiettes. Each child who attended the event was given a toy. Members of the Knights assisted Wadeson and Buturla with the decoration of the hall. Among the celebrities attending were Rudolph, the Gingerbread Man and Santa, who met with each child individually.
Andrea Laughery, who came with her sons, Oliver and Giovanni, said, “My husband, Bryan, recently joined the Knights of Columbus a few months ago. As a family we are so happy he joined. It’s important to us to be a part of the church and the community and being a Knight helps us do that. Today’s event serves the community with an opportunity to gather, meet other families and celebrate the Christmas season. This was our first Breakfast with Santa and I hope we can make this a family tradition. We want our sons to grow up in a community that spreads happiness and hope during the Christmas season and year round.”
Jackie Abruscato who came to Breakfast with Santa with her daughters, Josephine and Elizabeth, explained why they attended saying, “Our neighbor, Rich Buturla, was a member of the Knights before he moved out of state. He invited our family to this event three years ago and we have attended since. The Knights donated an iPad to my daughter, Josephine, which has helped bring the world to her. My daughter, Elizabeth, finally eats waffles so she loves having Breakfast with Santa.”
Al Sanza, past Grand Knight and Toy Drive chairman, has been collecting toys for children in needy since 1963 after leaving the Marines. He was grateful for the large donation of toys made by Quest Financial Services. Over 22 merchants placed Knights of Columbus toy collection boxes for the Christmas for Kids Toy Drive. In all, over 950 toys were collected and distributed. Each of the 125 children who attended the breakfast received one and the rest were distributed for the Warwick Lions/ Warwick Valley Rotary Holiday Party for Children in Need, the Alamo and Catholic charities in Goshen.
Sanza summed up the event saying, “There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a child’s face light up when receiving a present.”