Annual Santa's Breakfast draws hundreds to Rouzerville Ruritan Club

December 03, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE |
  • Santa Claus holds 2-month-old Slade Koons of Waynesboro, Pa., while his cousin Tristin Heyward, 7, tells him what she wants for Christmas Saturday morning at the seventh annual Santas Breakfast at the Rouzerville (Pa.) Ruritan Club.
By C.J. Lovelace

ROUZERVILLE, Pa. — Holding her 2-month-old son Slade, Natasha Koons of Waynesboro, Pa., stood by as her 7-year-old niece Tristin Heyward picked through a mountain of stuffed animals inside the Rouzerville Ruritan Club on Saturday morning.

Heyward was one of hundreds of local children who got to pick out a free stuffed animal after they got up on Santa's lap and told the big man what they wanted for Christmas at the seventh annual Santa's Breakfast.

"We come every year to see Santa and the breakfast is always good," Koons said.

Taking over for the Rouzerville Business Association, the Rouzerville Lions Club hosted the event for the first time this year and expected to serve close to 500 people, according to Lions Club president Allen Scott, who also is a member of the RBA.

"We were getting to the point where we were understaffed, didn't have enough people to help, so (the RBA) asked if the Lions Club would take it and we always get a big turnout of help," he said of the switch.

Until last year, the event never drew more than about 225 people. But in 2010, more than 600 came out for the all-you-can-eat breakfast of eggs, sausage and pancakes "for whatever reason," Scott said.

"We were caught off guard ... so we were really rushing," Scott said. "So this year, we planned for more and with all the extra help, it's made it flow a lot easier."

More than a dozen Lions Club members and other local volunteers came out to help prepare the breakfast, including nonmembers Brian and Jim McCleaf, who cooked all of the eggs and sausage, Scott said.

And it wasn't just a breakfast-only event for many as families received several other freebies for the price of admission, which was $5 for adults and $3 for children.

Every child got a free picture with Santa courtesy of the Lions Club, free passes from Cosmic Skate & Play to skate that afternoon as well as free train rides at Red Run Park. The leftover stuffed animals also were to be given away at the park, Scott said.

"We always take hot chocolate over for the kids, too," he said. "They really like it."

The event is one of several fundraisers hosted by the Lions Club, which supports the local community by helping people with vision-related illnesses, such as purchasing glasses for those who might not be able to afford it.

"These things are more to be involved with the community, to be out there and give back," said Scott, who has been in the club for almost 10 years. "That's where everything comes from. If we can't make any money then we can't give any away. It's just great that the people come and support us here because we can turn around and give it right back. It's really nice."

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