Students in one first grade class drove its teacher so crazy with anticipation, that she had them make a paper chain and remove a link each day so they knew without asking her how many days until they would have Breakfast with Santa.

This is the sixth year that the University Club has invited children from Cochran Elementary to the holiday breakfast, and while past events have been for kindergartners and first graders, this year second grade children also are included. They are due to visit Dec. 8.

Breakfast with Santa grew out of club general manager Bill Rothballer’s participation in Every1Reads. After he volunteered for the reading program, the school recruited him to be on the board of its Family Resource Center, and that, he said, made him understand more of the kids’ needs.

About 98 percent of the students at Cochran Elementary school are on free or reduced lunch, said Sue Wagner, Family Resource Center coordinator.

“For a lot of these children, this is the only opportunity to come into a formal setting and eat at a set dining table,” she said.

Rothballer pulls everyone on his staff into the festivities. Wait staff set the tables and bring out the food. His administrative staff serves the food to the children.

“It means what Christmas is all about – giving and feeling the love of making children happy,” said Linda Johnson, director of membership and marketing.

“Anyone who has a problem—it will go away today,” Rothballer said.