Event expands to include more food, crafts, visitors
The past month has been a busy one for Melinda Vandruff. She didn't let having a baby last month stop her from successfully coordinating a longer and more activity-filled Breakfast with Santa than in years past for the Lansing Parents and Teachers Association.
On Nov. 20, four weeks before the event, she gave birth to a baby boy, Carrick Vandruff, her third child. She knew that Carrick originally was due the week before the event when she had decided to coordinate it, but, luckily, he came two weeks early. Melinda saw the timing as a blessing, as were the people who helped her to plan and execute the event.
"I was very happy to have the volunteers that we did," she said. "People volunteered with out hesitation."
PTA also extended the event, which required more help. This year it ran from 9 a.m. until noon, an hour longer than in the past.
There had always been Santa and some crafts for children to make at the event, but this year the breakfast featured more activities to keep children entertained while waiting to visit with Santa, Vandruff said.
PTA vice president Sue Daze said more people attended this year in comparison to other years because of new features such as a catered breakfast, Santa's workshop, a visit from the Lansing Police and Fire departments and McGruff, the crime dog.
For the first time this year, the PTA hired Chris Cakes, a caterer, to make pancakes for the breakfast. In the past, the PTA has provided cocoa, coffee and donuts.
PTA also solicited items for donation for the breakfast. The items from local business are used for door prizes and raffle prizes, Vandruff said.
"Kids like to hear their name called," she said.
This year also marked the beginning of Santa's workshop for children to buy presents for their parents. Kayettes and a few parents helped children shop in secrecy for Christmas presents for parents and family members.
PTA also expanded the crafts it offered for children to do while they waited. This year, children could choose from more than eight different holiday crafts to make and take home.
"We like the children to look forward to taking something home that they can do or play with," Vandruff said.
Instead of taking Polaroid pictures of the children who visited Santa, the PTA used digital cameras for the first time. The change worked well because the new camera allowed the photographer to zoom in more. Also, if the parent was not happy with the picture, the photograph could be reshot.
The popularity of Santa was too much for the printer. It caused the printers to back up, so some families had to wait for their pictures. Those who could not wait will receive their pictures the first day their students return to school.
PTA made no money on the Breakfast with Santa, nor did it intend to.
"It's not a fund-raising event, it's something we do for the children so they can have the memory," Vandruff said.