Center Moriches, NY| For the sixth straight year the unofficial start of the St. Joseph's College (L.I.) women's lacrosse team's season began with the unique Christmas Magic event which brings the team together off the field for a special cause.
This tradition, started in December of 2011—before the program played its inaugural contest—begins annually with members of the team receiving letters addressed to Santa from local needy children. The team members were then tasked to buy specific gifts mentioned in the letters to be delivered to the children.
This year's event occurred on Wednesday, December 21 at Clayton-Huey Elementary School in Center Moriches, NY. In attendance was Santa, his elves, the 23 members of the SJC women's lacrosse team and the over 50 families benefitting from the event. The gifts, brought by the team, were handed over to Santa, who presented then to the children.
"For me, I find out more about my team on this one special evening than all of preseason," said head coach Bob Vlahakis. "The camaraderie and cooperation of an anonymous, unselfish act of kindness can never be overstated. Seeing my team bond over such a magical Christmas event really warms the heart."
Below are some of the team members' accounts of the event.
"Christmas Magic was amazing. I really enjoyed giving out the presents and seeing the children smile and get so excited. I love being able to help whenever I can. I wouldn't want any child not to get presents on Christmas. I think this is a great event that we should keep doing as the years go on. I loved being able to make the kids day by being there. It was an eye opening experience and I loved every moment of it."
- Ally Johnston, junior attack from Commack
"Every year we participate in Christmas Magic and it's always a great event that allows us to give back to those who don't have much. Attending this event allows us to see the differences we make for children on Christmas. The excitement that they show when they open a gift with Santa is a wonderful thing to see. It is a good feeling to know that you did something to help make the holidays a little better for the kids and a little easier for their parents."
- Kristi Carroll, junior midfielder from Patchogue
"Christmas Magic was such a special event to be a part of. Giving back to the community is something I have done before, but this event was truly magical. To see the childrens' faces light up with happiness and pure joy was a beautiful thing. This was my first time participating in this amazing event and I felt fulfilled knowing that my team and I had made a large impact on the lives of others. I really enjoyed spending time with the families and children and cannot wait to be a part of this event next year!"
- Emily Fey, Junior midfielder from Center Moriches
The new PCHP Coordinator at Clayton Huey Elementary School in Moriches is Ninoska Slifstein. Charlie Russo is the Chair of the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, and is the founder and driving force behind the charitable organizations Christmas Magic, Giving Tree Camp and Every Child's Dream.