All it took to make Anoria Cheek happy was some glitter.
The 8-year-old girl was one of many participants at Amerigroup Georgia’s Winter Wonderland at Lakeshore Mall in Gainesville. Children were given free gifts, including hats and gloves, entertainment, food and photos with Santa at the event.
About 500 coats were also handed out. They were donated by corporate sponsors like Milton Martin Honda, Wrigley’s, ProCare RX, Hall County Sheriff’s Office and the Gainesville Police Department.
“It’s a community effort,” Kim Frisbie, Amerigroup marketing account manager, said about gathering the coats needed.
In order to receive the goodies, families were asked to visit five out of the 10 community partner tables. Once they visited five, they were able to go to the Amerigroup table and pick out a winter jacket for every member of their family.
Partners for the event varied, some teaching about the dangers of tobacco and others about pregnancy.
The partners included Goodwill, Hall County Women, Infants and Children group, Medical Park Pharmacy, Interactive College of Technology, Green Willow Pediatrics, Action Ministries, Choices Pregnancy Center, University of Georgia Extension Services, Amerigroup Health Care and LifeSouth Community Blood Center.
Anoria, along with brother Andrew, 6, decorated gingerbread men cut-outs made of paper at the LifeSouth booth with big smiles and their best concentration faces.
“She likes being creative,” Angela Cheek, mom of both children, said.
Donor recruiter Stephanie Tufts watched over the booth as children decorated the gingerbread men, snowflakes and snowmen.
There were also real cookies for children to enjoy, with over 200 chocolate chip cookies provided by Great American Cookie Co. with green and red icing for them to decorate with. Hot chocolate was also served.
Erick Willock, 10, made two cookies with the seriousness of a gourmet chef. He said decorating the cookies was his favorite part of the event.
Angela Howell brought her niece’s children, Honesty Young, 5, and Junior Young, 4, and they gravitated toward the cookies, too.
“I like to get them out of the house, get them to run around a bit,” Howell said.
Kids like the Youngs were able to get some of their energy out with several activities. Children could get their nails painted, play basketball or have a story read to them.
Books in both English and Spanish were given out on behalf of the Action Ministries organization. There were 200 books in all, from kindergarten to third grade reading levels, with a granola bar thrown in as well.
“We’ve never done this (free book event) in Hall County before,” Action Ministries representative Tina Grubbs said. “People really seemed to enjoy it.”
Most of the English books were gone an hour into the event.