By Debbie Adams
Vinton Moose Lodge 1121 welcomed the Down Syndrome Association of Roanoke (DSAR) to celebrate the holiday season with a Christmas Party on Dec. 10.
About 130 children and adults from all over the valley attended the event, ranging in age from an infant celebrating their first birthday up to age 40. The DSAR has been hosting the annual party since the 1990’s, except during the pandemic years, but this was the first year the annual Christmas Party was held at the lodge in Vinton.
The DSAR is made up of individuals with Down syndrome in Southwestern Virginia, along with their families, friends, and professionals.
Its mission is to provide advocacy for individuals of all ages with Down syndrome as well as educational opportunities and support for their families, caregivers, and the professionals who provide medical, therapeutic, and instructional services.
The afternoon included a visit with Santa and a complimentary photo from April Dawn Photography, a Christmas craft (decorating ornaments), games and activities, and a delicious luncheon catered by Sal’s Italian Restaurant in Bonsack.
One of the special guests at the event was music therapist Noel Anderson, founder of Anderson Music Therapy Services, who played the guitar and brought along a variety of instruments (122 in total, including maracas, shakers, drums and more) for the guests to play—a big hit with those who attended.
Hers is “the only full-time music therapy private practice in Roanoke and helps toddlers through older adults with various developmental and neurologic needs reach their full potential through the power of music.” It gives Anderson, a board-certified music therapist and music educator, the opportunity to combine her passion for music with therapeutic services.
The 2022 DSAR Christmas Party came together through the combined efforts of Amanda Adams, Clark Crawley, and Crystal Dillon.
Amanda Adams, a member of the DSAR Board of Directors and their Program Director, was seeking a location for this year’s event. She posted a notice that the organization was looking for a venue that would accommodate up to 150 children and adults.
Her friend, Crystal Dillon, treasurer of the Vinton Moose Lodge, noticed the post, and spoke with Clark Crawley, Vinton Moose Lodge Administrator, who offered the venue, free of charge, for the DSAR party. They worked out the details for what turned out to be a very successful holiday event from everyone’s point of view—guests and organizers.
Adams was unfamiliar with the Moose Lodge but delighted to discover what she describes as “a hidden gem. You wouldn’t know passing by that it exists.” Crawley says that the growing DSAR is a good fit for their facility. Vinton Moose Lodge 1121, a private charitable organization, is dedicated to community service and hopes to be contacted when needs arise in the Vinton area and throughout the region.
DSAR members came in the night before the Christmas Party to decorate the hall, although the Moose Lodge was already decked out for the holiday season.
The Moose Lodge banquet hall occupies the bottom level of the facility. It features a huge ballroom with a dance floor, a kitchen and bar area, a fireplace, and, during the Christmas season, many decorations and props that make it a perfect location for large holiday parties. This year Moose members decorated with a huge sleigh for Santa, his regal chair for greeting visitors, a Christmas tree, and more.
Both Adams and Crawley hope the DSAR Christmas Party will become an annual event at the Moose Lodge. Not only did they provide the venue, the Moose Lodge made a donation of $500 to the DSAR.
This is one of many contributions the Moose have made to the community across the valley. On December 2, the Sassy Sisters of the Moose hosted special education students from Roanoke County Public Schools for their annual Breakfast with Santa and provided the food as well as the facility.
Last August, the Vinton Moose Lodge hosted the USA Patriots Softball Team for lunch as they visited the Roanoke Valley for the weekend. They are a non-profit group whose mission is “to bring athletic and veteran amputees together to promote the benefits of inclusive sport (slow pitch softball) and therapeutic recreational activities.” They were here to take on a team of first responders at Salem Memorial Ballpark and raise awareness of, and funds for, their cause.
The Vinton Moose made a generous contribution of $1000 to them as well.
In January 2022, the Vinton Moose made a $10,000 donation to Vetshouse, Inc., a nonprofit organization in the Hampton Roads area that helps homeless veterans secure housing and job opportunities.
The Vinton Moose Lodge was chartered on January 3, 1961; they are about to celebrate their 62nd anniversary. They are located at 2127 East Washington Avenue,
For up-to-date information on the Vinton Moose Lodge #1121 and their activities, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Vinton-Moose-Lodge-Family-Center-1121-789466891114946/.
More information on the DSAR is available on their website at http://dsar.org/ or on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dsar.org. Amanda Adams is eager to reach out to families with parent packets about their organization and Down syndrome in general.