Project Santa Claus makes Christmas happen |

Project Santa Claus makes Christmas happen

Santa Claus and his elves turned the Douglas County Fairgrounds into their workshop Wednesday, finishing up gift sorting and wrapping for Project Santa Claus.

Santa and his helpers have been working since October collecting, sorting and wrapping Christmas presents for more than 500 children and 227 families in Douglas County.

“The most important thing is this is a beautiful example of the community coming together for the greater good and helping those in need in Douglas County,” Project Santa Claus “elf” Dee Bauer said. “I enjoy being such a small part of it because there are so many services, clubs, churches and community people coming together to make this happen.”

Kiwanis Club of Carson Valley, Carson Valley 20-30 Club No. 85, Carson Valley Lions Club, Rotary Club of Minden and Carson Valley Sertoma all played major roles in Project Santa Claus from monetary donations, gathering angels and gifts to wrapping.

“Our goal is to make this a community project,” Kiwanis Club of Carson Valley member and Project Santa Claus Chairman Gary Dove said. “Many of our service club banners are hanging in one place in appreciation. Without them or the many generous individuals or businesses we would not be able to put this together.”

Carson Valley Lions Club member Ron Santi said he has been involved with Project Santa Claus for at least 30 years and up until three years ago the club was primarily monetary donors.

“We wanted to take on a different role so we took on the angels,” Santi said. “It’s truly a good feeling to be doing the hands on. It’s great to be a part of it all.”

Most recipients from Project Santa Claus are qualified for the program by Douglas County Social Services, Washoe Tribe Social Services, Court-Appointed Special Advocates or the Family Support Council.

Wish lists of children up to age 17 are placed on angel trees throughout the community where individuals can shop and donate gifts to a specific angel.

Every child receives at least two gifts valued at about $30 each and a new book and children in fifth-grade or younger receive a hat and mittens.

A total of 165 bikes were also part of the Christmas wish lists. Dove said many of the bikes were donated by Starbucks Roasting Plant and Friends of Project Santa Claus and reconditioned by China Springs Youth Services.

“It’s definitely an eye-opener to see how many children are in need and it’s great to see the community come together to help,” Project Santa Claus volunteer, Nicole Tuoc of the Carson Valley Medical Center said.

One recipient who wished to remain anonymous, did not qualify for the program, but discussed her fear of not being able to provide a Christmas for her child. Dove didn’t skip a beat and presented her with age appropriate gifts so her child could enjoy the holiday.

“That’s the kind of thing we do. There are qualifications families have to go through, but when a need comes up and we’re able to help we will,” Dove said.

Families will be able to pick up their gifts 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

Supported by individuals, businesses and service clubs, Project Santa Claus is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit which provides Christmas gifts to hundreds of families in need in Douglas County annually.

For information call 775-339-8882 or connect with Project Santa Claus on Facebook.