Breakfast with Santa

Lilly Thies, 4, of Effingham, “hangs” with Santa during Breakfast with Santa.

News Report Staff

Effingham High School seniors Madison Blacker and Emily Kelly were getting their elbows sticky Saturday morning during Breakfast With Santa.

No, the two teenagers weren’t getting sloppy with the pancake syrup. They were busy volunteering as pancake batter mixers. Sometimes, they had the batter ending up on them instead of the electric mixer. But they were in jolly spirits as they helped at the Effingham Education Foundation’s annual for fundraiser student scholarships and teacher grants in Effingham schools.

“I expected to be serving food this morning. This is really messy, but we’re having fun,” Blacker said, as she spooned in more pancake mix.

Across the high school kitchen, some volunteers were pouring their mix on a rotary griddle for the serving line that offered sausage and pancakes to parents, grandparents and young children, many of whom were dressed in Christmas-themed clothing.

“You have to have the right ratio in the mix,” Kelly said while trying to stifle laughter. “And we’re waiting to eat pancakes.”

Not far from where children were lining up for a visit with Santa Claus, EHS band clarinet players Emily Gharst and Kayla Schubert were playing Christmas tunes, along with saxophonists Taylor Torres and Emma Hardiek. During a break, the tuneful volunteers talked about why they came early Saturday morning to help out the Education Foundation.

“You get to make little kids happy,” said Torres, who has helped in previous years as a face painter.

“I just love playing my instrument,” said Schubert. “And this is another way to support the band program.”

Not far away, Caralee Hayes was offering her winning smile as an elf for Santa on the Hearts Rock Café stage. Saturday was the third time the Effingham junior had come out to help with Breakfast With Santa.

“I just love seeing the little kids coming by. They’re so cute,” Hayes said.

She does offer support for children being nervous toward Santa.

“I try to help with that. I have bells to jingle or I hand out candy canes,” Hayes said.

Buddy the Elf, alias Chuck Westendorf, and Twinkle, alias Alfredo Lopez, were really getting into their characters Saturday. Buddy talked about his “reindeer studies” and his Christmas work schedule as an elf.

“I have to work late at night because everyone wants the latest in electronics for Christmas,” he said while drawing stares from children with his green combo outfit.

But Buddy does enjoy seeing all the kid’s reactions to Santa. And Twinkle felt privileged to be part of Santa’s posse, too.

“I like hanging out with Santa. He seems like a really cool dude,” Twinkle said.

The EHS Art Club had many volunteers for different activities that helped entertain the many children present Saturday. Club members Aly Armstrong, Chloe Laramor and Chloe Langhorst, who have also helped at the event in previous years, were producing colorful designs.

“We’ve done this every year we’ve been in the high school. We all really enjoy doing it,” Armstrong said.

Sometimes, the high school students create great memories for the younger ones. EHS student council member Allison McDevitt offered some inspiration to 4-year-old Anna Awotesu on painting images on a paper plate. Looking on was older sister, Lumi, a South Side Elementary student. As her eyes widened in wonder, Lumi seemed to be inspired herself on her project.

Breakfast With Santa each year helps out education in different ways. But it also generates some wonderful memories for families.