Nine years ago, Sayville High School became the permanent, host venue for the Annual Every Child’s Dream Community Holiday Dinner. This event, conceived and launched in 2005 by the late Ken Mangan, has been assisting the homeless or economically disadvantaged in the community by giving children and their families “a little Christmas” they might not otherwise experience.
Continuing his wonderful legacy for the first time without him, Sayville High School picked up the mantle, in conjunction with two not-for-profits: Every Child’s Dream and Christmas Magic founded by Mangan, and prepared for the December 13th event. This year, the holiday dinner was expected to have approximately 800 guests. Two separate seatings, the first at 5:00 p.m. and the second at 7:30 p.m., were scheduled to accommodate the large crowd.
Days before the event, Sayville High School Club Advisors and students spent extra-periods in the cafeteria—a virtual Santa’s Workshop—wrapping the donated new toys and gifts and sorting the 1,500 gently used coats they had been collecting from the community. In addition, the decorating committee bedecked the halls with colorful lights, red and green balloons, tinsel garland, and snowflakes, and the art students painted the windows with holiday themes.
“This has become a flagship program for our high school,” Principal Ron Hoffer noted with pride, “and virtually every club and class is involved in one facet or another in making this an opportunity for our neighbors. In a partnership with, Every Child’s Dream and Christmas Magic, we are able to provide each guest with a prime-rib dinner, a candy-store visit, ice-cream bar sundae, face painting, a DJ, age-appropriate gifts from Santa, a photo booth, and more…”
Who could not have been impressed by the glimmering ambiance of this year’s Every Child’s Dream Community Holiday Dinner? The Sayville High School volunteers, many dressed as elves, welcomed the guests. Throughout the evening, the elves guided the delighted children to Santa’s knee and the various activity stations, ensuring that everyone received a gift that night. Courteous student servers waited on the diners, while members of the High School Chorus performed holiday melodies, lifting everyone’s spirits.
It was a beautiful holiday event. Although the High School staff and students who worked diligently to make the event possible were too numerous to name individually, Principal Hoffer thanked them through their organizers: “Student Government Advisor Ms. Van Dorn who oversaw the entire production; Mr. Shaw who assisted with all the servers and performers; Anchor Club Advisor Ms. Rizzo Shore, who oversaw the boutique that distributed over 1500 gently used coats and other clothing; and Art Honor Society Advisor Ms. Berotti, who supervised the talented art students as they transformed our cafeterias and hallways into a winter wonderland.”
Judging by the joy on the guests’ faces, the magical night more than accomplished its goal to spread goodwill and good cheer. As the famous prayer says, “For it is in giving that we receive,” the meaning of this special season of love and light was also reflected in the beaming faces of the Sayville Community members and High School students who volunteered.