13 Jan Kids share pizza, soda and gifts at Tree Street Center party
Kids share pizza, soda and gifts at Tree Street Center party
Haze Emerson, 7, left, reacts to the presents she was given by a Lewiston Junior Pirate at the Tree Street Youth Center Friday evening. Watching Haze are her siblings, left to right, Heather Bee, 8, Uneak, 9, R.J., and mom Heather.
LEWISTON — Jen Marcotte of Auburn watched nervously as the little girl opened her present. “Oh good, she’s jumping up and down,” Marcotte said. “That’s a good feeling, when you see a kid happy with the gift you helped pick. Because you never know.”
Her son William, a second-grader at Auburn’s Fairview School and member of the Lewiston Junior Pirates Mites hockey program, happily munched on the cookie the girl had given him in exchange.
It was the culmination of the Christmas party Friday night at the Tree Street Youth Center on Howe Street. The party brought children from the hockey program to meet children from the center to share pizza, exchange some gifts and get to know each other.
“We are neighbors, after all,” Tree Street Youth Executive Director Julia Sleeper said.
Tree Street provides after-school care and homework help for children from kindergarten through 12th grade in downtown Lewiston. The center is on the western end of the Androscoggin Bank Colisee’s parking lot, where the Junior Pirates program plays.
“We’re right next to each other,” Sleeper told the children. “So this is a fun opportunity, around the holidays, to meet our neighbors. We’re going to have great food and some fun, and there’ll be presents for everyone.”
The party was the brainchild of Sleeper and Bill David of Greene, a hockey parent with two children in the Junior Pirates program.
“Our mission is to give back to the community and help our kids become well-rounded athletes,” Davis said. “A lot of programs can teach a kid to skate. We’re trying to teach them to appreciate what they have.”
Each hockey player, about 30 of them in all, brought a gift they had picked out for one of the Tree Street children. The Junior Pirates program also donated $1,500 to the Tree Street Youth Center.
The hockey players came from all around Androscoggin County — Lisbon, Wales, Greene, Sabattus and Poland.
For their part, the Tree Street children made thank-you cards and wrapped them up with frosted cookies, a small notebook, some pencils and crayons.
The children all came together in the center’s game room briefly, taking turns trying to roll pool balls into pockets on the center’s pool table, playing some board games and getting to know each other.
Then they shared pizza and sodas, donated by Antigone’s Pizza and Emerson Toyota.
Finally, they swapped presents. Tree Street children walked out with Hot Wheels car sets, board games, drawing sets and jewelry-making kits.
And everyone walked out with a new friend.
Assyl Mohammed, 8, sat between Logan Ouellette, 8, and Deago Edward, 7, introducing the two.
Edward, a Longley School third-grader, is one Mohammed’s friends at the Tree Street center. That’s where the two met. Mohammed attends third grade at Lewiston’s Martel School.
But it was Edward’s first time meeting hockey player Ouellete, a third-grader at Greene Central School.
Mohammed was the bridge between them, just a guy introducing two old friends to each other. The three sat and ate cheese pizza and orange soda.
How long had Mohammed and Ouellette known each other?
“Oh, we’ve known each other a while,” he said. “We met earlier, playing at the pool table.”