Instead of hosting a Christmas gathering limited to employees' families, National Machinery threw a party and invited the community.
About 500 people accepted the invitation to the company's first "Operation Elf" community Christmas party at Tiffin-Seneca Public Library Sunday afternoon.
Anne Martin, human resources manager, said business is going well, and employees are working overtime at National Machinery. Business was not good in 2009 and started to rebound in 2010, she said.
"It dropped quickly, and it came back very quickly. ... We're actively looking for employees," she said.
The company had hosted a large party annually since the 1940s.
John Bolte, executive vice president for National Machinery, said for a while, it had an aging work force. But, after hiring employees over the last several years, the company finally has a significant number of younger employees with families again, he said.
PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE
Braden Criblez, 4, sits on Santa Claus’ lap during “Operation Elf” at Tiffin-Seneca Public Library Sunday afternoon.
He credited Martin for coming up with the idea of partnering with the library and opening up the event to the community instead of hosting one at the plant.
"They wanted to sponsor a party so their employees and the rest of the community could enjoy it. ... They really just want to give back," said Debby Roszman, community relations coordinator at the library and Martin's daughter.
Sunday's event included face painting by Calvert High School Art Club, elf dancing taught by In Motion Dance Studio, refreshments by ARAMARK and a magic show by Mr. Paul the Magician.
Roszman said National Machinery employees volunteered to help with the event. The company gave every child a book and took pictures of children with Santa Claus.
Kyla Stoltz, 9, a fourth-grader at Washington Elementary School, watched the magic show, read books and got a tree painted on her face while at the library Sunday.
"I like Christmas trees," she said.
Madison Smith, 7, a first-grader at Washington, also read books and got a tree painted on her face. She said the face painting was her favorite activity during Sunday's party.
"(It) has lights and stars on it," she said.