The Score 4 More Inc. team was thrilled to see a terrific turnout at their first-ever holiday celebration at Roxbury’s Melnea Cass Recreation Center on Dec. 20. (L to R): Clayton Weston, Roger Roberts, Liz Miranda, Tiffany Benjamin, Marlon Benjamin, Marcus Johnson, Natasha White, Deronne Greaves, and seated, Raymond Noiles with 3-year-old daughter Jayla. (Daniel Irvin photo)
|Jayda Cribb, 10, proudly poses with her brand new Barbie, who she named Angie, at Score 4 More Inc.’s first “We Love The Kids” Holiday Celebration on Dec. 20. (Daniel Irvin photo)|
|Siblings Jacony, 6, and Mozart Rodriguez, 12, were excited to have brand new toys to play with before Christmas at Score 4 More Inc.’s first “We Love The Kids” Holiday Celebration on Dec. 20. (Daniel Irvin photo)|
|The Melnea Cass Recreation Complex in Roxbury was the site of the “We Love The Kids” holiday celebration last Thursday. The event, hosted by Score4More, Inc. & Friends, featured music, entertainment, activities, Santa and Christmas gifts for over 500 children. (Eric Esteves photo)
Rudolph and his friends greeted kids and community members as they walked towards Roxbury’s Melnea Cass Recreation Center last Thursday. As they whizzed down the walkway lit by glowing blushes covered in red, green and blue bulbs, many children stopped to take pictures with Elmo before pulling their parents inside.
Wide smiles and curious, eager eyes were the expressions over 500 kids shared once they saw the range of activities waiting for them. Santa was on the guest list and many couldn’t wait to give him a rundown of their Christmas list. Before long, children were running, toting gifts and animal-shaped balloons while others got their faces painted.
Score 4 More Inc. hosted its first “We Love The Kids” Holiday Celebration with the help of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, drawing roughly 720 supporters last week.
Score 4 More Inc. Co-founder and Director Marlon Benjamin said it’s important for events like this to exist so young kids can see people in their community giving back and be inspired to do the same.
“I go to other people’s holiday parties and they have Santa, balloons and everything, and our kids tend to get cookies in a room somewhere,” said Liz Miranda of Score 4 More. “We really wanted the kids to come in here, and if they’ve never had this experience, to feel like they’ve gotten a little bit of holiday cheer, a gift and more.”
“We’re here to uplift and really change the norm of the community, and this is one way to do that,” added Raymond Noiles, Score 4 More Inc. co-organizer.
Acknowledging an ebbing economy, Score 4 More members and sponsors wanted to be sure Boston’s kids had an unforgettably happy holiday. Realizing there may have been many families in need, the organization refrained from putting a limit on the amount of kids who could participate, refusing to turn anyone away.
Every registered child aged 2 to 17 was met with a toy of their choice once situated inside. Gift bags of goodies were given to those who weren’t registered.
There were no frowns as kids danced in a big circle near the disc jockey or played on the larger-than-life moon bounce.
“This was an unexpected treat,” said Latasha Thompson of Hyde Park. “It seems like a lot of thought and love was put into the planning of this event. [It’s] a really great environment to be in, and if we have more activities like this for the community, I think we would come together a little bit more and there’d be a lot less violence.”
Partnering with the Department of Conservation and Recreation added in large part to the event’s success. The free facility, which is spacious and open to all, is a hidden gem that Score 4 More Inc. wanted to highlight. Receiving donations from dozens of local business and organizations also helped.
“I really had a great time,” said Jacony Rodriguez, 6. “The jumpy house was fun and I got a jump rope to use with my friends.”
“I wanted to have fun, see my siblings and just be myself,” said Jayda Cribb, 10. “I’m glad I came. I got to see my neighbors, too.”
As the night drew to a close, it was clear the kids didn’t want their fun or time with new friends to end as they dragged their feet to the exit’s doors.
“We wanted to give each kid that attended the event a present and provide them with games, activities and refreshments and just make it a big celebration of life,” said Benjamin. “And let them know it is cool to give back and it is cool to help people out who may not be in the same situation as you.”