By Andrea Fox
Christmas at the Drop Inn over the last 13 years has caused laughter all the way. The first Christmas we celebrated had 14 to16-year-olds playing musical chairs, musical bumps and other traditional games. Mark (one of our volunteers at that time) offered to make a ‘pass the parcel’, this he did with a difference, his forfeits were somewhat cruel – eating raw chillies or ground coffee, drinking water while standing on your head and much worse things which are probably not suitable for printing. The pass the parcel of the Drop Inn became legendary with young people begging to take part every year despite knowing full well there would be some nasties involved. The support, heroism and laughter have been incredible. Each year our preparations include young people making decorations for the centre. The first two years of the Drop Inn, when we were housed in a basement on King Street, young people designed and built Santa’s Grotto for the town at the request of the council, they also helped supervise and entertain children on the day, and make refreshments for visitors. The young people involved proved to be extremely resourceful and imaginative – enough said. Another year we were asked to make figures for the Nativity on the Memorial Gardens – a group of young people took great pride in making figures of young people as the wise men - offering gifts of a skate board and an Xbox, it was their updated take on the oldest story in the world, it certainly got young peoplethinking about the true meaning of Christmas. They were also extremely protective of the scene.Three years running many of our young people collected shoe boxes, filled them with suitable gifts, wrapped and labelled them to be sent to children in need in other countries. Also for three years running, a team of our young people helped with celebrations, refreshments and the visit from Santa at Beaurepaire Gardens. We have just done our fourth year helping the Rotary Club with their Christmas charity collection with Santa and his Sleigh, raising funds for local and international charities. All in all, young people at Christmas never fail to amaze me with their thoughtfulness, kindness, helpfulness and sense of fun. As always they are so underestimated - and judged too easily. They give us hope for the future; they are the future.