Special Children's Christmas Party racks up 20 years on the Border

DOING IT FOR THE KIDS: Coordinator Elle Bradbury says getting the Party up and running is a huge logistical feat. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE
DOING IT FOR THE KIDS: Coordinator Elle Bradbury says getting the Party up and running is a huge logistical feat. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

THE annual Special Children's Christmas Party in Wodonga is an exercise in logistics.

It's a 12-month operation for a reason – it takes one massive effort to deliver the 900-odd children who are invited to the event every year a party they won't forget.

Elle Bradbury has been coordinating the event for the last three years, after first getting involved through her work with the Albury Northside Chamber of Commerce.

She says the fact that the children and families can feel a bit of ownership over the event is what makes it special.

“It's definitely a very special event,” Ms Bradbury said.

“The thing that keeps it special is that it's a little bit exclusive, children are invited through their schools or other organisations.”

Teachers and carers apply months in advance for the children they work with to be invited to the party, which is supported by various local businesses as well as the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“It can be a little bit of a secret sometimes, a lot of people don't know that it's happening until they know someone who has been invited,” Ms Bradbury said.

“For it to be running for 20 years now is incredible.

“We always over-cater for the kids with the toys, the ones that are left over are used for other fundraising efforts and donations.

“Some also go to the children's ward at the Albury hospital.”

The party isn't just a free for all, first in best dressed affair either – organisers go the extra mile to make it a personal experience for every one of the hundreds of kids in attendance.

“Every child gets three presents, so with 900 or so coming to the party the logistics of it are incredible,” Ms Bradbury said.

“It's really important to us that we deliver each present in a way that's special for every child, and that caters to whatever their needs are.

“The kids will go into a toy room with Santa and their families one by one, it's a nice quiet area.

“Every toy is specific to their age and gender, and we make sure it comes to them ready to be used, whether it means putting batteries in, or doing a bit of building.

“It takes a little bit of that extra stress off the families, the seamless nature of it all is something they really appreciate.

“Most of this is done through their teachers and schools, it saves parents from having to worry about applying online or getting tickets through the mail.

“The teachers and workers do a fantastic job of getting kids registered in time.

“It means there's something there for everyone, depending on needs and personality.”

The first Special Kids Christmas was held in 1996.