Strands of softly glowing Christmas lights draped the trees at V.I. Veterans Memorial Park on Tuesday, where longtime Upstreet neighbors hosted a holiday party with live music, free food, and a special focus on St. Thomas’ youngest residents.
“Our wish is to continue to serve the children in our community,” said Myron Jackson, president of the nonprofit organization We From Upstreet.
To that end, the money raised at We From Upstreet’s 16th annual holiday parties held Monday and Tuesday will benefit Kidscope, a nonprofit child-advocacy center that serves families from St. Thomas and St. John. The money will also help fund We From Upstreet’s own after-school programs and summer-enrichment camps, which are especially important now that the neighborhood’s two elementary schools have shut their doors, Jackson said.
While Tuesday’s party officially started at 5:30 p.m., it was not until after 6 p.m. that groups of lawn chair-toting families and friends began to fill the green. Barefoot Davis and Friends started the evening off with country and western tunes, while Motown Christmas songs performed by local artists would follow.
“People will be singing oldies but goldies,” said We From Upstreet Vice President Naomi A. Monsanto, a 1964 graduate of Charlotte Amalie High School who has lived in or near Round de Field all her life.
Monsanto said the Upstreet area is more diverse today than when she was a child.
“Different people from all over came to the community, and we embrace them,” Monsanto said.
Monsanto and her fellow We From Upstreet members also embraced one another on Tuesday, as the gathering marked an opportunity for longtime neighbors to reconvene and reminisce.
In her invocation, Rev. Winelle Kirton-Roberts of Memorial Moravian Church asked them all to keep the community’s youngest residents in mind.
“We know that their lives are at risk every day,” Kirton-Roberts said.
Anyone who wishes to donate to Kidscope can learn more by visiting www.kidscopevi.org, while those who wish to give to We From Upstreet can email email@example.com for more information.
For the party-goers, Tuesday’s events were not necessarily all about giving, as the We From Upstreet folks provided free pork and sweet bread to everyone who came out for the music and wanted a bite to eat.
“Of course,” Monsanto said with a smile. “This is Christmas.”