HMS JOI Club Supports Local Families While Spreading Holiday Spirit
A team of about 30 Santa’s helpers threw open the doors of Horizon Middle School to ensure dozens of local children have a happy holiday.
“This is a time for them to just have fun,” said Camryn Penny, HMS 8th grader.
As a member of the HMS Junior Optimist International club, Camryn helped organize the annual JOI Christmas party to support the Fostering Hope Foundation, a Colorado Springs non-profit for foster families. On Dec. 8, the JOI Club transformed the HMS gym into a Christmas wonderland for their group of special guests.
“It’s a great opportunity to help foster families,” said adult volunteer Lori Negron. “It’s been wonderful to see this happening at Horizon because the [students] really have a heart for community service and helping kids.”
As the HMS orchestra played Christmas music, the HMS JOI Club of 6th, 7th and 8th graders, some dressed in festive pajamas, supervised a carnival of games and activities. Around the gym, a team of volunteers showed guests where to create their own ornaments, visit Santa Claus, or get a bite to eat.
For some in the HMS gym the Christmas party was a family event. Near the bleachers a fourth-grader from Springs Ranch Elementary School named Keira Teeples twisted balloons into animal shapes.
“I like that everyone is happy and that everyone is trying to make everyone else happy,” Keira said. Next to her sat her older sister Abby, an SCHS junior, and on Abby’s right, Emma Teeples, vice president of the HMS JOI Club. The three sisters spent their Saturday together to participate in Emma’s favorite of the JOI Club events.
“I just think seeing how happy all of the foster kids are, getting to make the ornaments and have balloon animals and get a present,” Emma explained.
The Christmas party service event supports up to 70 children and 50 adults according to JOI Club sponsors. While many children whispered their Christmas day wish to Santa, as a guest of the JOI Club, each foster child could also home with a gift collected for the annual gathering.
“I don’t think anyone could be more proud as a teacher to see their students rise to the occasion and help others,” said Kittrie Glen, HMS science teacher. “It’s heartwarming.”