For more than 20 years, the Saint Louis Bar Foundation has kicked off the holiday season with a special party for children in the St. Louis area whose lives have been severely impacted by the criminal justice system.
Motion for Kids (MFK), an annual event held each December for thousands of metropolitan St. Louis area children in the foster care system, will host approximately 2,500 metropolitan St. Louis area children on Sat., Dec. 2 at the Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University campus at 1 S. Compton Ave.
The Saint Louis Bar Foundation is partnering with The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL), the St. Louis Cardinals, the St. Louis Blues, St. Louis University and the Isaac Bruce Foundation to present this annual event that provides cheer to area children who otherwise would not experience the joy of the holiday season.
BAMSL members Christina Lewis Abate, director of underwriting for The Bar Plan, and Cardina Johnson, associate general counsel of the Illinois Education Association, are co-chairs of this year’s Motion for Kids holiday party with significant help from an active committee, BAMSL staff, and more than 300 volunteers.
“For one, the children get to have holiday party that they otherwise may not get to have,” Lewis Abate said. “So I think it’s an opportunity to bring the legal community together with traditionally underserved population. For a lot of these children they wouldn’t have a gift for the holidays if we didn’t have this party.”
MFK partners with local support organizations to identify the children invited to attend the holiday party with their parents or guardians. Those children are matched up with sponsors from the St. Louis legal community (lawyers, judges, paralegals, office administrators, law students, legal secretaries, etc., and their families). Each sponsor is asked to purchase and wrap two gifts chosen from the child’s wish list.
“It is unique that that the kids get to pick out their exact, specific gift that they want, so it’s not just a random gift that gets passed out,” Johnson said. “Not only do the kids get something, but I really am impressed with how a lot of people who are giving get to feel that Christmas spirit around St. Louis and are really into buying gifts. We have a limitation on the amount of the price the gift, but oftentimes people will get so excited that they will go beyond what they’re asked to do, which shows the heart of St. Louis.”
The party features appearances from Fredbird (1:30-2 p.m.), Louie (2-3 p.m.), and the SLU Billiken mascot along with SLU athletes, cheerleaders and dancers. There also will be entertainment provided for the party-goers throughout the afternoon. The lineup for performers hitting the stage includes:
1–1:30 p.m.: Beyond All Reason
1:30–2 p.m.: Brian Clarke
2–2:30 p.m.: Harris-Stowe Honeycomb Dancers/Drumline
2:30–3 p.m.: Gentlemen of Vision
3–3:30 p.m.: Christian the Magician
Activities include photos and autographs with sports figures and cheerleaders, arts and crafts stations,face painting, games, storytelling, photos with Santa Claus, lunch for the children and more.
BAMSL’s Women in the Legal Profession (WILP) Section has collected children’s books for the Book Corner, where they will be allowed to pick a book or two to take home. Local storyteller Georgy Rock will entertain the children at the WILP Book Corner beginning at 3 p.m.
With more than 5,400 members in the St. Louis region, including attorneys, judges, paralegals and law firm administrators, The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL) is the oldest voluntary bar association in the area.
“From a community standpoint, when I think about the agency partners that we have , the people who provide us the kids, that’s goodwill towards those individual entities and it helps support them in a way that they wouldn’t necessarily have,” Johnson said.