In the spirit of giving to their community, Events DC and Washington Informer Charities teamed up for the second annual “Cozy Christmas” celebration in partnership with the Washington Nationals at Gateway DC in Southeast.
Children received free gifts during the Thursday, Dec. 15 event while also getting the chance to take pictures with Santa, dance with Washington Wizards cheerleaders and eat tasty treats.
Just before opening her present, Adira Cavanaugh, 7, could hardly contain her excitement.
“I hope I get a doll,” she said to her mother, Jamelia Cavanaugh. “I already got my cookie.”
Adira’s mother described the event as “wonderful.”
“I am so glad that I brought my two children here after I heard about this event from Adira’s school,” she said. “She’s having a really good time with all the music and sweets and dancing and this is just a really great way for people that you don’t normally see to all come together.”
In addition to the old-fashioned holiday lights and upbeat Christmas music, event organizers surprised fortunate attendees with an elaborate magic show, adding to the evening’s success.
A representative for Washington Informer Charities, responsible for coordinating many of the celebration’s details, said helping others matters especially during the holidays.
“The holidays can be rough for people and sometimes when people are struggling, they are reluctant to attend events like this where food and gifts are given away at no cost,” said Angie Johnson, Washington Informer administrative assistant.
“That’s why I didn’t mind standing in line for hours handing out presents or wrapping them before we distributed them to the children,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about. Helping and serving others with the hope that we’ve made their Christmas special. The smiles on those children’s faces was invaluable and I would do it every day if I could just see those smiles again.”
Events DC first spearheaded “Cozy Christmas” in 2015, taking over the annual event first sponsored in 2013 by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development [DMPED]. One executive for Events DC said partnering with other organizations allowed them to make this year’s “Cozy Christmas” bigger than ever.
“This event is very important to the local Congress Heights community, not simply because of the toy distribution, but because it brings families, neighbors and community stakeholders together to celebrate the spirit of the holiday during a time of increasing change in Ward 8, Congress Heights specifically,” Erik Moses, senior vice president and managing director of Events DC, said.
“We are dedicated to providing unforgettable experiences for the community,” he said.
“After agreeing to manage the Gateway DC Pavilion for DMPED, we wanted to continue to host a holiday event to which the community had become accustomed while revitalizing the event’s programming and ensuring that ‘Cozy Christmas’ would be a true holiday celebration.”
Moses emphasized the importance of making the event free to families.
“It’s free to pre-registered families so they are able to enjoy the live entertainment, activities and take photos with and receive gifts from Santa – all without the weight of financial burdens,” he said.
“We are so grateful to the Washington Informer Charities for their partnership which allowed us to give toys to nearly 1,000 more children than we did in 2015,” Moses said.
Denise Rolark Barnes, Washington Informer publisher, said she connected the charitable arm of the newspaper with Events DC, believing that their collaboration would have a greater impact on the community.
Just days earlier, Washington Informer Charities successfully partnered with the Washington Nationals for a toy drive held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest.
“For our ‘Winterfest Toy Drive’ it was important to the Nationals to work with local organizations that are deeply connected to the community, have identified areas of need within our community and are committed to serving those needs,” said Shawn Bertani, senior director of community relations for the Washington Nationals.
“We had a great platform for collecting toys and wanted to work with partners that had boots on the ground and could get the toys directly into the hands of area children and families. We believed Washington Informer Charities and Events DC could do just that,” she added.
“It’s because of the relationship between the team and our fans that we believe we have a responsibility to give back. We recognize and appreciate that we are uniquely positioned to impact the community,” Bertani said.

Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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