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Holiday party a treat for children

Holiday party at AT&T Park a hit with kids

SAN FRANCISCO -- The families who gathered at AT&T Park on Friday don't have many luxuries in their lives. They do what they can to survive, and that usually doesn't include ice skating, magic shows or trips to the ballpark.

On Friday they got all of the above.

When the kids attending the holiday party for children from homeless shelters saw a private skating rink set up across the infield, their eyes lit up. Dozens of ice skates were lined up in the dugout, where they got to sit on the bench of pro players and lace up for the ice. For most of these kids it was their first time at a ballpark and their first time on the ice, and it was hard to decide which was more exciting.

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About 120 people from local shelters were treated to pizza donated by Amici's and beverages and dessert from Bon Appetit, all followed by ice skating at the Giants' seventh annual holiday party. While children happily munched on pizza, Santa Claus suddenly appeared on the scene and started making rounds to take early Christmas orders. It meant a lot to the kids, and just as much to their parents.

"We've been through so much, and they haven't got a lot," said Jamie Crosby, looking at her two daughters. "They don't get many luxuries. They really needed this."

The Crosby family left their home because it was too dangerous for their five children. They couldn't afford to move to a safer neighborhood, so they finally decided being homeless would be better than raising their kids around drugs and violence. An organization called the Hamilton Family Center was there to help the Crosbys get back on their feet.

"We're trying to be able to do it on our own now," Crosby said. "We don't want to be homeless again. I hope this is it for us."

"I'm not hoping, I know it is," Crosby's husband, Darryl Haynes, said with conviction.

Like the Crosbys, most of the families attending the party are just down on their luck or couldn't seem to make ends meet for their children. Along with families from the Hamilton Center, the party also was attended by families from St. Joseph's Family Center, Homeless Prenatal Program and Edgewood Center for Children.

St. Joseph's and Hamilton Family Center both provide housing, meals and support services to help struggling families return to independent living and maintain their housing, while the Homeless Prenatal Program helps homeless parents and pregnant women get the care necessary to have healthy babies. The Edgewood Center serves children and families in crisis through service, training, advocacy and research.

Families from all four programs packed the Field Club lounge at AT&T Park for food, face painting and a magic show. Crosby beamed as her daughter, Adeanna, was selected to participate on stage during the magic show.

After the magic show, everyone headed out to the rink. Even Lou Seal took the ice to show off his seal style. He promptly fell on his bottom, but the kids helped him up and helped him slide around the ice.

"This is just a blessing," Anthony Lucero said, watching his kids on the ice. "It's good to see them out there. It kind of starts the holidays off right."

After the rink closed for the night, the kids were treated to hot chocolate and presented with a gift from the Giants and the San Francisco Fire Fighters Toy Program.

Becky Regan is an associate reporter at MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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