ST. PETERSBURG – When community activist Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter plans a party, she plans a party. In two weeks, she threw together a holiday bash for 95 children from Lakewood Elementary last Fri., Dec. 18.
With money left over from her 12th Annual Lawfest and Community & Fair back in October, she decided to throw a holiday party that the kids would not soon forget.
“This is my school that I’ve chosen out of the five that they say are failures—I don’t call them failures—and I talked with Principal Cynthia Kidd and asked if we could do a Christmas Cantata [sic],” said Lassiter.
Although Santa didn’t make an appearance, he sent some very prestigious helpers, in the form of Mayor Rick Kriseman, Commissioner Ken Welch, Reverend Manuel Sykes, Juvenile Welfare Board’s Trenia Cox and even Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Michael Grego made an appearance.
Donated items poured in from people throughout the community, which made it possible for each child to select from a cadre of gifts for their parents. An assembly line of Santa’s helpers wrapped the gifts so mom and dad can unwrap a gift on Christmas morning.
Kelly Davidson, Lakewood Elementary social worker, provided a list of 95 children to be guess at the party. The list was made up of students who are in the Pack-A-Snack Program, which provides healthy, non-perishable snacks for children on the weekend who may not have an opportunity to eat outside of school.
A party such as this could not have been possible without the staff at Lakewood Elementary. Momma Tee’s go-to-person was Office Clerk Mallori Watson, who not only was her right-hand woman, but she brought her family in to make the afternoon a success.
Watson has a non-profit organization comprised of all family members called Family Matters 925, Inc. They help raise money for different causes, such as donating money and items to a Lakewood Elementary family whose child passed away.
“Before my mom passed, she made me promise to keep us [the family] together,” said Watson, who decided to create the nonprofit as a way to honor her mother.
Educational games and toys were raffled off, which proved to be a challenge because the youngsters were too excited to listen for their numbers and the sugar pumping through their veins in the form of cupcakes and candy canes didn’t help the situation either. But all in all, these well-behaved children had a great end-of-the year party and all of Santa’s helpers left with smiles on their faces.
“Next year I plan to do every kid out here. Now that I’ve had this idea, we’re gonna blow it up next year,” said Momma Tee. “It’s gonna be an all-day affair.”