Smart Start takes part in breakfast with Santa event at Trinity Oaks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 15, 2022

By Susan Shinn Turner
Smart Start Rowan

SALISBURY — Lorie Aldridge was in the holiday spirit.

She’s marketing director for Trinity Oaks, and she also chairs the Smart Start Rowan Board. So she thought, why not combine the roles to host breakfast with Santa at Trinity Oaks?

That’s exactly what happened Dec. 3, as more than 75 children and caregivers gathered for the annual event in the retirement community’s special events room.

First, families went to “Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen” for a delicious breakfast catered by the Trinity Oaks culinary staff. Then, it was on to make a keepsake ornament in “Santa’s Workshop.”

Finally, it was on to the “North Pole” (also known as the Card and Game Room) for a leisurely visit with Santa himself.

“I thought since every corner of Trinity Oaks was decorated for Christmas that this would be a great way for people in the community to see what we’re all about,” Aldridge said Friday. “Trinity Oaks is a magical place at Christmastime, and we wanted to share that magic with our youngest members of the community.”

Smart Start Rowan is a local non-profit agency that serves children ages birth to 5 throughout Rowan County.

“The kids had a blast,” Aldridge continued. “Seeing Santa was a big deal. They really loved it.”

Aldridge has already offered to host the event again next year.

“Smart Start staff told me it was the best ever, and that made me feel good,” Aldridge said. “It was well worth it to see the kids making memories.”

“We were thrilled to partner with Trinity Oaks to bring back our breakfast with Santa event this year,” said Amy Brown, Smart Start Rowan’s executive director. “It was such a success and so much fun! Our staff and volunteers were honored to provide a magical experience for the children and their families.”

The entire Smart Start Rowan staff, as well as family members and board members, helped make the day special, said Denise Heinke, the agency’s new director of outreach and development.

“I’m super excited to be a part of Smart Start Rowan,” she said. “They’re a wonderful group.”

Of Breakfast with Santa, she said, “It was a fabulous morning. We had a really good turnout, and we were fortunate to have Trinity Oaks host. It was the perfect venue — truly excellent accommodations. It was very easy to navigate from one room to the other, not feeling crowded at all.”

The best part was that children had plenty of time with Santa to talk about everything on their Christmas lists — and about Mrs. Claus and the reindeer and whatever else was on their minds. We’re pretty sure most of them made the Nice List, too.

For more information about Smart Start Rowan’s programs, go to