The Gift of a “Smile”

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The Gift of a “Smile”

Alecia Sclafani, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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“The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

 

This quote from the infamous Christmas movie, Elf, proved to be accurate during the annual AHRC Christmas Party hosted by Farmingdale High School. The party provided Christmas cheer to AHRC group home members and Farmingdale’s Smile Club members during the afternoon of Saturday, December 10th.

‘Twas the afternoon before the Christmas Party, and all the Smile club members were decorating for the party, under the direction of the beloved Smile advisors, Mrs. D’Aponte, Mrs. Rossi and Dr. Sperduto. Another key coordinator, an integral part of the party’s success, was Ms. Brewer. Candy canes and snowflakes adorning the walls, newspaper trees resting on the tables, and snowmen dangling from the ceiling all aided in transforming the high school’s cafeteria into a winter wonderland. With all hands on deck, minimal effort was required.  On the potential success of the party, member Joe Gyedu was “excited to have fun and meet new people.” Member Stefanie Trifoli was looking forward to “dancing [at the party], and seeing everyone’s reactions when Santa Claus arrived.” Despite the party planning preventing a proper Smile meeting from occurring, members were willing to sacrifice the biweekly meetings in favor of the widely anticipated celebration. Reluctant to depart from the suddenly mystical winter wonderland, decorators were then ushered out of the cafeteria as they’d be returning the next day.

Walking into the festivities and greeting others in attendance lifted already positive spirits. As exciting as it was to emerge into the cafeteria, nothing compared to seeing the pure joy on guests entering for the first time. People flocked to grab a bite to eat, some choosing a holiday design for members of the Art Honor Society to paint on their faces or hands. It wasn’t long before the DJ was playing fan favorites, inviting all to rush to the dance floor and dance to the music. Out on the dance floor, the only thing that mattered was who could sing along the loudest, or who could stay on their feet the longest. There were no lingering stares or awkward shuffling. In the true spirit of the holiday season, genuine smiles and cheers were shared throughout the friendly crowd. While most of the exuberance stemmed from the positive energy on the dance floor, there was the lingering eagerness for Santa’s arrival towards the end of the party. The moment Santa Claus arrived sent a shockwave of joy through onlookers, many tempted to bolt up to the infamous jolly man. Not a single person was wearing a frown as Santa Claus came to town. If there was a slight possibility of any person feeling like an Ebenezer Scrooge, getting a mere glimpse of how brightly party attenders’ expressions shone would have melted away any lingering iciness.   

It is extremely easy to brag about the success of a school. But it is so much deeper than hosting a holiday party at the high school and merely attending for service hours. Smile advisor Mrs. Rossi stressed the importance of the party was “watching people focus on mentally disabled students and adults – something that can be out of their way. Their biggest problem is getting over themselves, but at the party, nobody was absorbed in their own stuff. Everyone took advantage of the off time to make others, and even themselves, feel better.”  This community never ceases to amaze. Numerous people volunteered their time solely to bring joy to others and even to each other. These people ignore whatever stigma may linger towards children and adults that happen to be developmentally disabled, and spent a portion of the day socializing and celebrating with them. All labels are set aside, because at the end of the day, no matter what age or disability they happen to be or have, they are people.  Everyone laughs and smiles the same. There are no labels, there are no differences. Everyone is important, everyone is equal. That is the key of the holiday party, and the key to Smile.

Being a member of a club or attending a party shouldn’t make anyone exempt from spreading positivity and acceptance. Please, make it a point to show value and appreciation for others; this should not just be reserved for the holidays. Make someone’s day a little bit brighter by at least waving or smiling; a smile goes a long way.

 

* Photo courtesy of Mrs. Rossi