John Jay Hosts its 37th Annual Children’s Holiday Party

John Jay Hosts its 37th Annual Children’s Holiday Party

John Jay Hosts its 37th Annual Children’s Holiday Party

“My mom would bring us to the holiday party to get our gifts. Depending on the year, that could have been the only gift I got.”—Naomi Nwosu-Stewart

During this time of year, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the holiday madness—finding the best sale, planning the perfect vacation, and tying up loose ends at work or school. You can lose sight of what the season is really about. But in the true spirit of giving, on December 7th, the John Jay community came together to bring holiday cheer to neighborhood families at the 37th annual Jack Brennan Children’s Holiday Party. The party was first organized in 1981 by friends and colleagues of Jack Brennan, a former John Jay Security Director, in honor of his memory and generosity. The purpose of the celebration has always been simple yet compelling: Assist families struggling during the holiday season, bringing young children hope and joy.

“No one was singled out, and it was nice knowing that there were people out there who cared about those of us who were less fortunate.”—Naomi Nwosu-Stewart

“The first time I went to the party I was six years old. Our pastor, Reverend Robert Helm, knew we didn’t have a lot. And, because he was a professor at John Jay, he told my mom about the holiday party,” says Naomi Nwosu-Stewart, Director of Enrollment Management Services. “After that, my mom would always bring us to the holiday party to get our gifts. Depending on the year, that could have been the only gift I got.” For young Nwosu-Stewart, the holiday celebration meant more than receiving presents. “I remember the party as a moment of joy where I could play with other children. It was a time when we didn’t have to think about our situation,” she says. “No one was singled out, and it was nice knowing that there were people out there who cared about those of us who were less fortunate.” Understanding the difference this event can make in a child’s life, Nwosu-Stewart encourages her own children to give back. “My kids ask to do chores so that they can earn money, go to the store, and buy a gift for a child at the event.”

Volunteers enjoying the event
Volunteers enjoying the event

“Most of the children invited come from shelters, community service agencies, and foster homes. For many of them, this will be the only holiday celebration they have.” —Stephanie DiBrienza

More than 20 volunteers—including Brennan’s grandson Michael Davidian and his children—participated in the event this year, handing out nearly 600 bags of toys to over 400 children. “An event like this party is a great reminder to be grateful for what we have and understand that the holidays aren’t always a bright light for everyone,” says Stephanie DiBrienza, Enrollment Management & Student Affairs Special Events Specialist. “Most of the children invited come from shelters, community service agencies, and foster homes. For many of them, this will be the only holiday celebration they have.” With food, face painting, carnival games, the John Jay Bloodhound, and Santa Claus, children and their families came to the event eager and excited to be part of this annual holiday celebration.

Jack Brennan’s grandson Michael Davidian and his children
Jack Brennan’s grandson Michael Davidian and his children

More scenes from the event:

A father and child at the John Jay Annual Children's Holiday Party

Facepainting at the John Jay Annual Children's Holiday Party

Bloodhound and volunteer at the Children's Holiday party

Family with John Jay BLoodhound at the Annual Children's Party

Bloodhound posing with kids at the John Jay Annual Children's Holiday Party

John Jay Volunteers at the Annual Children's Holiday Party

Scene from John Jay's Annual Children's Holiday Party