By Mark Ambrogi
For Kim Haley, the Carmel’s Central Christian Church’s annual holiday party provides a unique treat for her children.
Each year the church, 1242 W. 136th St., holds a Mission Possible Christmas Party for the children and adults with special needs. Siblings are also welcome. This year’s party was held on Dec. 6.
“My kids look forward to the Mission Possible Christmas Party all year long,” said Haley, a Carmel resident with three children. “It is an event where they can walk (and roll) into and be totally accepted and loved. This is the only place where my son can go see Santa and shop for a gift for Mom and Dad without them helping. All of the crafts and activities are adapted so that every child is able to participate. To be able to drop them off and not worry the whole time we are gone is an amazing Christmas gift.”
Steve Wooldridge, a Carmel resident and church member, has been volunteering for several years.
“Really the volunteers have as much fun as the kids,” Wooldridge said.
Tanya Barmore, a volunteer leader of the ministry and a Geist Elementary kindergarten teacher in Fishers, said the ministry has been going on for nine years. At this year’s party, more than 80 volunteers hosted 46 guests who played games, decorated gingerbread houses, shopped for their parents at Santa’s Secret Shop, took a sleigh ride, visited Santa and enjoyed a Silly Safari Animal Show.
“It’s a respite time for the families if they need to get out and do whatever they need to do,” said Barmore, a Carmel resident. “We have a lot of single moms that get out and a lot of them say this is the only time of the year they can get out.
There are games and snacks for the children. Each special needs guest has a buddy for the night.
“Our guests have ranged from infants to friends in their ‘50s that come join us,” Barmore said. “It’s for all ages and any kind of special needs they might have.”
Barmore said the party guests have grown through word of mouth through the years. There are also emails through the schools and Down Syndrome Association.
“Now we have a guest list we send it out to and we have new people on all the time,” Barmore said.
Barmore said 2015 will be the 10th anniversary for the ministry which hosts respite parties three times a year. There will be a prom in the spring. There is a prom for ages 13 and up on a Saturday night. The evening before there is a movie night for the younger children. In the summer, there is a party with outdoor activities.
The 2015 party dates will be posted soon at www.cccCarmel.org or you can reach Barmore at email@example.com for more information.