Meadville Tribune

Local News

November 16, 2012

Moore magic: Help needed as Jimmy Moore party planning begins; read Jimmy's letter

MEADVILLE — One again, Meadville’s annual Jimmy Moore Christmas Party funding is off to a slow start — and, once again, party organizers are confident the right amounts of money, gifts and volunteer hours will be rolling in soon.

“The donations have been slow coming this year” Meadville Sertoma Club President Jack Thompson said this week. “The economy’s been down again this year — but we’ll manage, I’m sure of that. We always find a way, thanks to the many people who help.

“The community actually does it, and it’s really very heartwarming,” Thompson said of his years of experience running the party. “The party belongs to our community; it’s their party — we’re just the in-between.”

The annual party, more than 60 years, is the community’s way of helping children from less fortunate families experience a better Christmas. Guided in recent years by the local Sertoma Club, the event provides food, fun and gifts to hundreds of local kids.

This year’s event is Dec. 22 at Meadville Area Senior High School. It begins with lunch at noon, and the entertainment starts at 1 before the gift-giving occurs.

Last year’s party took place on Dec. 17 — eight days before Christmas. So, Thompson is excited about how close this year’s party is to Christmas Day.

“That’s what makes it nicer this year,” Thompson said. “The children won’t have to wait long to open their gifts, since some parents have them wait until Christmas Day.”

Nearly 600 children attended last year’s event, and about 30 Sertoma members volunteer their time to put the party together. The club has served as many as 900 children in the past.

Donations have been harder to come by in the past few years. This year’s party will cost a little over $20,000, Thompson said, and about half that money is currently collected.

The first Jimmy Moore party was held in 1946 after the Meadville Fire Department came into possession of a letter that Jimmy Moore, a boy from Meadville, had sent to Santa. The letter asked whether he would be stopping at the boy’s home that year.

Moore wrote that his family was poor and could not afford gifts, and he wondered if that was why Santa didn’t stop the year before.

While the actual existence of Moore himself and the authenticity of the letter was never verified, it inspired the Meadville Fire Department to sponsor a community party for children who might not otherwise have Christmas.

 Over the years, many groups have carried on the tradition with the Sertoma Club serving as local sponsor for the Jimmy Moore Christmas party since the mid-1960s.

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