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Children celebrate holidays at Atascadero Armory

Modified: Tuesday, Dec 15th, 2009

Pictured above: Cindy Hawkes, assistant store director of the Paso Robles Albertsons, organized a holiday celebration just for kids on Saturday at the Atascadero National Guard Armory, now in its eighth year. Hawkes is pictured talking to children and encouraging their cake-decorating creations. Sabrina Vanance, 10, of San Gabriel Elementary School in Atascadero shows off her gingerbread art, and Nolan Powell, 6, of Kermit King Elementary School, decorates his gingerbread house at the eighth annual children’s holiday event held at the Atascadero National Guard Armory last Saturday. Rayleigh Townsen, 8, of Kermit King Elementary School, holds the roof together of her gingerbread house.

More than 170 North County children filled the Atascadero National Guard Armory Saturday where they clamored, laughed and socialized while they decorated gingerbread houses, took a picture with Santa and received a holiday gift.

The annual event – this was its eighth year – is organized by Cindy Hawkes, assistant director of the Paso Robles Albertsons, and the people who know her say the armory extravaganza is merely an extension of the way Hawkes reaches out to children every day of the year.

“She’s like this with children every day,” said Nina Schmitz, an Albertsons manager. “It’s like they’re her children.”

Schmitz’s sentiments were evidenced by children who decorated for a time, followed by jumping from their seats to seek out Hawkes to look at their cakey creations. Nolan Powell, 6, from Kermit King Elementary School was one of those children.

“This is fun!” he said before he ran off in search of Hawkes.

Hawkes said the event was a way to kick off the holidays for local children by giving them a chance to have some fun away from life’s pressures, and though she was the driving force behind the celebration, Hawkes was quick to point out that she didn’t work alone.

“I can’t tell you how much I love the kids,” Hawkes said. “I love Albertsons because they support this. We simply couldn’t do this in every community. We have a really supportive community with all the staff being volunteers, the armory space donated, Staples printing materials for free, Coca Cola donated the drinks … and so many others.”

Most of the children present paid $20, a price lower than the cost of materials that included the gingerbread, picture with Santa, a toy, snacks and drinks. In addition to those children were nearly 30 others who were special guests of Albertsons based on family needs.

Noah DeLarosa has been coming to the armory every year for the past eight years, but this now that he’s a middle-school student and above the age limit to participate, he decided to volunteer his time.

“I really like it,” DeLarosa said. “It’s fun to see how the kids are decorating their gingerbread houses.”

Added DeLarosa’s father, David, “It’s all about the kids.”

There were many volunteers on-hand, including those from the Optimists Club. Chuck Sawyer is a club member and lieutenant governor for the club’s region that runs from Nipomo to San Miguel.

“This is an awesome event,” Sawyer said. “It’s all about...

For the complete article see the 12-15-2009 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-15-2009 paper.

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