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Annual Christmas party focuses on spirit of giving

December 16, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - For a short time Saturday afternoon, Hedgesville High School teacher Frank DiNicola was "The King of Bling."

Volunteered to play the part in magician Michael T. Myers' show, DiNicola donned a green and purple cloth hat trimmed in gold to help entertain 12 elementary school-age children who were treated to the annual Christmas party organized by students in the school's marketing club, known as DECA.

Prompted to say "I have it all" when tapped on the shoulder during the skit, the marketing teacher elicited laughter from the youngsters who gathered in the high school's cafeteria for the student club's 27th party.

"It's the kids that do it. Not me," DiNicola said of the charitable event, which benefited Opequon and Hedgesville elementary school students this year. "They really do all the work."

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This year, DECA members collected $3,300 from area businesses, which DiNicola said was a record.

"It was starting to get a little nerve-racking (until about a month ago)," DECA president Lauren Henry said of the group's effort to solicit support from area businesses.

Then, the threat of snow prompted the party to be rescheduled for Saturday, she said.

Before the children arrived, the club's members decorated the cafeteria and assembled a menu of covered dishes and desserts for the party. After eating, Myers entertained the group, then DECA students assisted the youngsters with a snowman bobblehead.

The party culminated with an appearance by Santa, who had each of the children sit on his lap and then were presented with gifts. Along with toys the children had listed on a wish list, they each received a winter coat.

In addition to the $300 spent for each child, the 95 employees of Panhandle Builders & Excavating Inc. raised nearly $1,700 for the party. The Berkeley County company also purchased 12 bicycles, along with helmets and pads for the children.

"I thanked them as much as I could thank them," DiNicola said of the extra gifts.

Henry's mother, one of the company's founders, recalled her own participation in the annual party as a DECA student after helping club members in the kitchen with the food.

"It's for the kids," Henry said.

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