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      Christmas Party with a Purpose

      The Spanish Action League's Christmas party was a few weeks late this season because of Christmastime snowstorms, but the celebration on Friday afternoon incorporated the 3 Kings (their feast day was earlier this week) and looked ahead to the traditional end of the holiday season, ten days after Epiphany. Luz Encarnacion, Spanish Action League Board President, came to the Shonnard Street Boys & Girls Club celebration dressed as one of the Three Kings, and said the timing was ok anyhow, "Especially with all the stress, this gives the community a new start, a fresh start." The guests were treated to green and red balloon decorations, a dj playing mostly Spanish-language holiday music, and a big dinner. Among those serving, the Barney family from the Northern suburbs. Megan, who's a 9th grader in the C-NS District, asked her parents to use money they would have spent on her gifts, to give to the needy, and she picked the League to help. They put her to work, serving food. Her father was giving out water and soda, and her stepmother was serving up cake. Jim Barney says he was really proud of his daughter, and happy to see a family event for the community--they say they'd like to come back next year. Besides Megan's, and other community gifts, the families were treated to food baskets, including turkeys donated by Time Warner, which also brought 'Santa' (an employee who hasn't cut his beard yet!) to pose for pictures with the kids. Encarnacion refers to the quadruple shootings on the Syracuse West Side last weekend, and other incidents of violence. "We invited the police to participate" she said, referring to two uniformed officers who came to mingle. She hoped more of the 200 children and their parents would see the police as help, in these stressful times for the community, which traditionally does not talk to police, even with violent crime.