Santa will be visiting Bridge City a little early this year. The Church of Christ Disaster Response Team, along with Bridge City area Churches of Christ and Portlight Strategies, Inc. are hosting a Christmas Party for the town.

From 4-8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 20, the community center pavilion at 105 Parkside Drive, Santa will be greeting kiddies, some bubbling with excitement, others with looks of terror beyond words. Arts and crafts and artificial snow will abound. There will be games and gifts for children of all ages, through teenagers. A traditional Christmas dinner with ham, mash potatoes, etc., will be served. Christmas tunes among others will be dished out by a DJ.

Open to everyone, there is no charge for the event. Donations will be accepted to benefit survivors of Hurricane Ike.

Mike Ochs, coordinator for nine counties of Toys for Tots, delivered over $2,000 worth of toys today to be given out at the Christmas party.

“He IS Santa Claus,” said his wife, Tammy. According to her, he has been working with Toys for Tots for seven years. 

It’s a family affair. Their three daughters, husbands and grandkids also help. 

Mrs. Ochs said that toy donations were down by half this year.

Church of Christ’s Disaster Response Team set up in the Bridge City Community Center in the early days following Hurricane Ike. 

“We’re usually in a disaster area for about a year,” said Laura Cremeaux, local coordinator for the Florida group.  “Then we just play it by ear.”

Besides offering cleaning supplies, clothes, household items, hot meals and more; workers volunteer from around the country to help with clean-up, deconstruction and rebuilding of area homes. The tear out phase is mostly finished and rebuilding begins. Helping with electrical and plumbing depends on when those volunteers come to town, “but we have sheet rockers, almost all the time,” said Cremeaux.

A group of college students came from Freed-Hardenan University in Henderson, Tenn. They will be in town until Friday, but this is not their first time here. It’s trip number three for Melissa Maddox.

She would be willing to stay through the holidays, but she wouldn’t have a way back home. Will she be back again? “I hope so, I think we will. Most of us are pretty excited to be here.”

Though most of the clean-up has been done, there still are some houses that haven’t been touched. The boys from Freed-Hardenan had already gutted one home by noon after just arriving this morning.

Cremeaux wants the public to know they are still serving meals Monday through Friday, 1-4 p.m. Unfortunately there will be no meal served on Christmas day, because the cook is not available. 

Church of Christ will always accept donations of time, money, clothes and supplies and will be here as long as there is a need.

Volunteers come from all over the country and some as close as the other side of the bridge.

So far, 2,067 families have been assisted, approximately. 100 houses have been worked on and over 41,000 meals served.