More than 400 young people who receive services from one of a dozen programs within Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia gathered for the 56th annual Archbishop’s Christmas Benefit for Children Dec. 18 at the Sheraton Center city Hotel in Philadelphia.

(Read’s full coverage of the party.)

They represent approximately 16,000 children across the Delaware Valley who benefited from residential and community-based programs offered by CSS this year, including children with disabilities, at-risk children, and dependent or court-adjudicated youth.

Nearly 200 archdiocesan high school students participated in this year’s celebration by greeting the children, serving as Santa’s elves, and providing entertainment and music.

The benefit began with a parade and concluded with an appearance from Santa Claus to give out presents. Philadelphia Eagles players Colt Anderson, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie along with cheerleaders and their mascot, Swoop, joined in the festivities.

More than just a one-time party for a few hundred children, the Archbishop’s Christmas Benefit for Children raises funds to support programs of Catholic Social Services that daily serve children throughout the year.

Catholic Social Services assists more than 162,000 children, adults and families of all faiths throughout the five-county area of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. (Photos by Sarah Webb)