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Students from the Corvallis Waldorf School caught the Christmas spirit early this year, planning and hosting a party Wednesday for about 30 people at Old Mill Center for Children and Families in southwest Corvallis.

The sixth-graders worked for weeks to plan, and they even brought the party to those involved in Old Mill’s Rally Around Families Together, RAFT, program. RAFT is an early childhood program for ages birth to 3 aimed at providing education, support and counseling to parents and children to keep families strong and help them be successful.

Chris Highfield’s sixth-grade class at the Waldorf School has been focusing on service projects this year and tying that in with knighthood and chivalry in the Middle Ages, an era the 12-member class is studying.

Despite all the planning that went into it, the Christmas party was more fun than project.

Eleven-year-old Nessa Warne-Meade and her twin brother, Tomas, and their classmates came up with the idea to host a Christmas party at the Old Mill Center at the suggestion of the twins’ mother, Jodie Warne, who has been a parenting instructor for the RAFT program.

“I knew the kids were really good at planning parties and giving back,” Jodie Warne said.

Allie Martin, 11, of Philomath, said the class thought activities such as a bean bag toss, cookie decorating, ornament making and singing would be fun to share with the tots at the party. It appeared they were right.

Three-year-old Thatcher Ross and his parents, Art and Colleen Ross, were enjoying the party with Thatcher’s grandmother Vivian.

“It helps them learn to interact with other kids,” Art Ross said. “And, it gives us a time to ‘not have kids’ and socialize with adults.”

“Let’s go make a pretty for mommy,” Colleen Ross said as she led Thatcher off to make an ornament.

Intern Kristy Robertson, who helps run the center’s infant room along with Alisha Farrell, was gratified with the work she saw from the Waldorf students.

“We have a lot of community support,” she said. “It’s awesome. They (the class) are so helpful and willing to work. They brought all the food and set everything up. They wanted to be super involved, which is great for us, it allows us to focus on the families.”

Santa, who appeared courtesy of Old Mill Center executive director Steve Golston, dropped in for a visit at the end of the party with a large sack of toys. He was assisted by Old Mill Center education director Cindy Bond, who helped to ensure that each child received a wrapped present.

Old Mill Center is a nonprofit United Way organization. For more information on its programs for children and families, see www.omill.org.

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