The giving spirit of Christmas filled the VFW National Home for Children community during the past week. Santa and Mrs. Claus visited each boy and girl – with help from VFW District 8 of Michigan – on Friday night. The excited children jumped up and down and ran to the front door to greet Santa and Mrs. Claus as they pulled up in the National Home fire truck. The jolly elf brought toys and other goodies to the children, much to their delight. “A tool bench!” exclaimed one little boy. He was a little shy at first about approaching Santa and Mrs. Claus, but soon he was hugging them tight. At one house, twins dressed in pink frilly skirts twirled about as they approached the couple from the North Pole. The house was decorated with lights and a white Christmas tree bedecked with colorful ornaments. Next stop was a home with a little boy dressed up, including a tie, and his sister in a bright red dress. “I got Power Rangers!” he shouted. “Just what I wanted!” At another house, a little girl worked hard to open a gift that was larger than she. Finally, the present was revealed. “A crib for your baby,” said her mom. “Now you can put her night-night.” The little girl toddled off, entranced by a small piece of wrapping paper with a penguin on it. The Christmas spirit continued on Saturday with a holiday craft show, the annual Christmas lunch, the fun of the Cootie clowns, and a final visit by Santa Claus before he headed back to the North Pole. The holiday craft show, featuring items made by the children and others, was a big hit with its lady bug theme. There were lady bug magnets and small glass containers decorated with lady bug stickers. There also were handmade cards, homemade dish cloths, and more. Out in the gym, Cootie clowns were tossing squishy balls back and forth and reaching into their bags to give a toy to each child as he or she walked in. One of the clowns was Margaret Ann Simental – also known by her clown name of Percyana – from MOCA Snakie State West Virginia No. 6. Percyana has been a MOCA clown for at least 10 years, if not longer. “I love coming up here,” she said. “The kids…the looks on their faces. It makes my day.” The Military Order of the Cooties (MOC) Grand of Michigan hosted the party, and Cooties came from all over the United States to take part. The lunch – Florida Picnic in the Snow – was prepared and provided by the MOC Grand of Florida. The picnic included grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, macaroni salad, chips, and other picnic fare. Michael McGrath, the VFW Department of Illinois National Home Chairman and National Home District 8 Trustee, also attended the festivities. He praised the time and effort that so many people put into the celebration. “Thanks to the Cooties for what they do and have done for so many years,” he said. “I’m very appreciative of the great job done by the people who came before us and supported the Home for so many years.” he continued. “All the activities show the great enthusiasm that exists here for the sake of the kids.” “Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus…” started playing. Santa Claus arrived with a jingle of bells and a “Ho ho ho!” It was time for each National Home girl and boy to go up and greet Santa and receive a gift. MOC Supreme Commander David Wimmer, MOCA Supreme President flo Parmelee, MOC Grand Commander of MI Eric Bell, and MOCA Grand of MI President Patricia Thorsby assisted Santa with his duties. Smiling children and young people walked up to Santa’s sleigh to talk to him and then get their present. Soon it was time for Santa Claus to return to the North Pole, rest up, and prepare for Christmas Day. With a wave and a jingle of bells, he headed out. Take a look at more pictures in our Flickr album!