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NRL's Annual Holiday Party for Neighborhood Children is a long-standing tradition at the Laboratory. The first holiday party was held in 1966; given by NRL employees to support children in need from the local community. The party was created to share holiday cheer with children from low-income families.
NRL volunteers plan the party logistics, manage the budget, decorate the party site, purchase food and gifts, prepare invitations, arrange transportation, and act as chaperones. These dedicated workers hold a number of fund raising activities throughout the year to stage the party, including bake sales, lunchtime picnics and soliciting direct donations from corporations.
The Lab provides lunch, holiday entertainment including clowns and magicians, and the F.W. Ballou Senior High School Jazz Ensemble provides the music. At the end of the party, each child is presented with a holiday gift bag of fruit, toys, candy, clothing and personal hygiene items. Additionally, each school receives a holiday gift of athletic equipment.
Children who attend the party are selected by their schools, according to need. Three Washington, DC, elementary schools (from a total of 15 schools in Ward 8) are invited each year on a rotating basis, for a total of 140 children per year. Financial and manpower assistance are also provided by NRL partner Lambda Beta Sorority,Inc., a service organization located in Washington, DC.
This NRL Annual Holiday Party for Neighborhood Children has showered more than 4,600 young children with holiday cheer over the past 35 years. Many notes and letters of appreciation have been received throughout the years from participating schools, students and representatives of the DC public schools. This NRL tradition continues to foster goodwill for the children in the local community and provides a positive presence in the community for NRL and the U.S. Navy.