LYNN — There are just 17 days until Christmas, but Caleb Lebela seems clueless about one of the most festive holidays of the year.
But at 2-months-old, not much is expected of him.
“He doesn’t know nothing, but he’s very happy,” said new mom Chancelvie Lebela.
The Lebelas were among more than 75 families lined up inside the Iglesia De Dios church Thursday for the Baby’s First Christmas Party. Since 1996, the Lynn Community Health Center’s has hosted the event, where families celebrate the season by dining with staff members and volunteers, enjoying music and crafts, and getting a visit from Santa.
Thanks to generous contributions, including $1,500 from an anonymous donor, each mom receives a sleeper, a bib, a baby book, hat, a homemade burp cloth, and a $15 gift certificate to Shaw’s Market.
Older siblings get a free copy of “Polar Express.” The Chris Van Allsburg classic children’s book tells the story of a wide awake boy on Christmas Eve who is welcomed aboard a train for magical trip to the North Pole.
“Staff and volunteers put a lot of their time and money into collecting all of these gifts throughout the year to give to families,” said Cindy Steger-Wilson, the clinic’s marketing director.
Mariel Recid and her 8-month-old daughter, Isabella, stood patiently waiting for Santa.
“This is her first Christmas and the first time she sees Santa, but hopefully she won’t cry,” she said. “This is such a nice event for every mom and baby, everyone enjoys it.”
Nancy Morales and her 5-month-old son Jacob were among the first to receive the gift bag.
“We really appreciate the things they’ve given us and for the love and care they share,” Morales said.
KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate High School student Heather Duran, 18, and fellow senior Camila Acosta, 17, were chosen by the charter school to help out.
“It was an opportunity to be involved in the community and help others,” said Duran. “There are not many Spanish speakers among the volunteers, so it gave us more responsibility.”
Acosta, 17, said there are so few Spanish role models and it was a chance to be one.
“Being a leader and being Spanish really stands out,” she said.