Header image: Santa Clause (Larry Gist) presents gift to a little boy
Written by Clifford Buttram
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Club, Inc. held its 22nd Annual Santa On Tour party at the Renaissance Pointe YMCA Center. The MLK, Jr. Club is a nonprofit organization and was founded in 1986 by the late Glyn R. Gleason and is currently led by President Bennie Edwards. It was organized to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to promote community service, education, literacy, and ethnic and cultural diversity. The club is dedicated to serving the Fort Wayne community through nonprofit efforts such as the MLK, Jr. Unity Day celebration each January, promotion and education about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his efforts throughout the year, and conducting a Christmas community event for needy children in the Fort Wayne community.
This year, the event blessed over 223 children between the ages of 2-12 to enjoy the spirit of Christmas by receiving a gift from Santa Claus, sharing a lunch meal with Papa John’s pizza, cookies and punch, and participating in a Trolley Ride through downtown Fort Wayne to view the Christmas lights and decorations. This was our largest turnout in several years and included nearly 80 parents and 40 volunteers to help with the effort. The parents, friends, and well-wishers of the children were grateful for the experience and voiced their thanks for bringing smiles to local children. Additionally, each child was able to speak with Santa and take an individual picture to commemorate the event. Finally, a raffle was conducted for children in a smaller age group for a boys’ and girls’ bicycle and a range of gift cards. The MLK, Jr. Club wishes all the children and parents a blessed Christmas holiday season and we hope their experience was enjoyable and memorable.
Any successful event relies on a strong support group. We wish to thank Amos Norman, Executive Director of the Renaissance Pointe YMCA and the staff for their professionalism and hospitality as well as the members of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Chase Bank, and Parkview Hospital for their tireless efforts in purchasing toys, wrapping gifts, and assisting with the entire operation. A special thanks to Larry Gist and Mike Jones for their time and commitment to portraying Santa Claus. A special thanks to Angela Lewis, Jeff Guy, and Heather Essex for the photography support and for printing over 300 photographs for the children. We would also like to thank the American Legion Post 148 Riders and the officers and members of American Legion Post 148 for their generous support in purchasing gifts and Chase Bank for providing volunteers to purchase and wrap gifts.
Finally, the MLK, Jr. Club would like to thank the Fort Wayne community for continuing to support this annual event and for allowing us the opportunity to serve. We continue to strive to serve our organizational goals and objectives and to preserve Dr. King’s legacy by serving our community through a variety of charitable events. We hope to see all readers and participants at the 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Day event at the Grand Wayne Center on January 21, 2019. Tickets are on sale for $10 and can be purchased at the door or by calling (260) 493-1534. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!