By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — There was a community feel at the eighth annual Stamford Christmas Dinner organized by Shelly and Al Vamosy Jr. at the Stamford Fire House. The meal included turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and a whole lot more. About 50 people, an equal number volunteers and diners were on hand.
Among the volunteers were Carol Howland and her husband, Mel, helping get things ready for the 4:30 p.m. meal. She said her older children were away for the holidays, so the rest of the family had been helping out for several years.
“It’s a chance to be with friends,” she said.
Mel Howland said the family did it because of their Christian background. It’s a chance to put “flesh on God,” he said.
“He blessed us and we like to bless others,” he said, adding his favorite part was seeing people enjoy the food.
This was the second year that Emma Sanzone, 12, a sixth-grader at Stamford Central School was helping. She said she enjoyed being part of an effort to make sure everyone could have a Christmas dinner. She said she likes Christmas because she gets to be with family and receive presents but working at the dinner helps make the holiday special.
Among the diners was a Harpersfield resident who asked to be identified by his first name only.
Lester said “it’s good to see the community get together.” He would probably be home having dinner with his family if the meal weren’t offered, but “it’s nice to be active in the community.”
In the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings, many local officials talked about what they are doing to prevent anything similar happening in this area. To help students and families deal with the situation, several websites were provided.
One included some advice by David Fassler, M.D., in an essay titled “Talking to Children about Community Violence.”
When parents and teachers have to talk about these types of tragic incidents, the conversations may be difficult but they are important, he said. As parents, teachers, and caring adults, “we can best help by listening and responding in an honest, consistent, and supportive manner.”
• Create an open and supportive environment where children know they can ask questions. It’s best not to force children to talk about things unless and until they’re ready. Give children honest answers and information. They usually know, or eventually find out, if you’re making things up. It may affect their ability to trust you or your reassurances in the future.
• Use words and concepts children can understand. Gear your explanations to the child’s age, language, and developmental level, ande prepared to repeat information and explanations several times. Some information may be hard for them to accept or understand. Asking the same question over and over may also be a way for a child to ask for reassurance
• Acknowledge and validate the child’s thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Let them know that you think their questions and concerns are important and appropriate.
• Don’t let children watch too much television with frightening images. The repetition of such scenes can be disturbing and confusing.
MARK BOSHNACK can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.