WHEN Santa Claus makes his entrance at the annual Special Childrens’ Christmas Party, flanked by firefighters from the Wodonga Fire Brigade, atop a motorcycle, you know it's going to bring a smile to a lot of young faces.
The jolly man's entrance was as advertised on Saturday morning, lighting up the faces of more than 850 children who had been invited to the party.
Each of them were given a gift, which were donated by local businesses and other sponsors.
Party organiser Elle Bradley said this year's event was one of the biggest they'd had in the past few years.
“It was a roaring success, we had the most kids we've had for a few years now, which really helps us for the 2019 event,” she said.
“We really rely heavily on schools and other organisations inviting children, which helps us put on bigger and better parties.
“We had about 850 children, plus with parents, guardians and carers it was a full house.”
The party is not just about putting a smile on the faces of children with special needs though – it's equally important to the parents, siblings and carers of those invited.
Organisers aim to take as much stress as possible out of the process, with volunteers assembling toys that need it ahead of time, as well as supplying other little touches such as batteries.
Renee McDonald-Morgan, whose son Charlie has special needs, said the party was not only fun for the children themselves, but great recognition of the extra work put in by the families who loved and looked after them.
“We think it's great, the fact that our area supports kids with special needs and disabilities by donating their time for them is amazing,” she said.
“For the parents it's even a networking opportunity, other families you might not see all that often, it's a chance to catch up.”
Mrs McDonald-Morgan said it was also important for her son's older sister Georgia.
“I think it’s great to reward the siblings of these kids with a present,” she said.
“They're on par with the parents, siblings don't know any different. The role they play is so special in the family.
“Charlie's older sister Georgia does an awesome job and we'd be lost without her.”
Anyone who would like to be invited next year, or nominate someone else, can contact their local school or council.