More than 230 have brighter holidays |

More than 230 have brighter holidays

by Taylor Pettaway
Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Nadine Chrzanowski helps 12-year-old Donica look for a board game at the annual Holiday with a Hero program on Wednesday at Walmart.
Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal | Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal

Douglas County agencies helped more than 200 youth celebrate Christmas during the 12th annual Holiday with A Hero.

“This was one of the events I have always wanted to be a part of,” said David Bourne, East Fork Fire Department captain. “It is a nice way to give back to the community. My wife and I are fortunate enough to provide for our son but so many families can’t. It is nice to brighten the holiday for a kid.”

The 230 participating youth met at the Market Street Walmart to pair up with a local hero and shop for Christmas presents.

“We had massive amount of volunteers and the community has been so gracious and kind,” said organizer Carson Bailiff Meliah Gonzales. “I couldn’t be happier.”

Holiday with a Hero takes students in the McKinney-Vento Students in Transition program on a Christmas shopping trip with local law enforcement and public safety officials. The McKinney-Vento program serves children who live in motels, cars, campgrounds, with grandparents or double up with other families. Each child receives $100 to shop with a public safety partner.

“We had the biggest turnout of shoppers and volunteers. It is nice to have that one-to-one relationship with the shoppers,” said organizer Carson Sgt. Daniel Gonzales.

Despite gloomy weather the students excitedly lined up outside, eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival. This year, Santa ditched the sleigh and reindeer and hopped a ride on a Carson fire truck to come to Carson.

“The joy of Christmas is just overwhelming me right now,” said Nevada National Guard Tech. Sgt. Emerson Marcus.

More than 300 volunteers from various Carson City agencies, as well as volunteers from outside county agencies, including Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada Division of Forestry and Nevada Department of Forestry, participated in the event.

For many of the volunteers, it is nice to have positive interactions with the children so they understand that public safety officers aren’t people to be afraid of.

“Nevada Highway Patrol is often overlooked because they don’t think we are engaged in the community because the perception is we are isolated to the highways throughout the state, both rural and urban, so it was nice to break down those barriers to be involved in the community,” said Trooper Tappan Cornmesser. “It is beneficial for kids to go in and have that positive interaction with the law enforcement community.”

Students picked out toys, clothes and electronics to have wrapped under the tree. Bourne helped his shopper, Ciara, pick out a new pink bike and matching helmet to put under her tree.

“I like getting toys, I got stuff like a bike and stuff,” said Ciara, a first grader.

Some of the students relinquished their own presents to buy things for their families. Kurt Zamarripa spent some of his gift card to buy presents for his grandma and brother, as well as himself.

“(I did it because) my grandma takes care of me,” he said.

In addition to getting Christmas presents, he said he really enjoyed getting to shop with Carson City Deputy Michael Huynh.

“I think it is cool, because last year I didn’t get to shop with a police officer. It was cool to see them and it was a lot of fun to shop with the police,” Zamarripa said.