Project Santa delivers the goods |

Project Santa delivers the goods

by Sharlene Irete

Christmas gifts and books for 671 children, bikes for 240 and clothes for hundreds were given out as Project Santa Claus had their big distribution day at the Douglas County Fairgrounds on Thursday.

The numbers are in – 291 families were recipients of Christmas gifts. The pavilion was filled with people, bags and bikes and all of it was going to gone by 4 p.m.

“This is an outpouring from the community that is astounding,” said Marilyn Malkmus, director of Project Santa Claus.

“This year there were concerns about natural disasters but it’s been extraordinary. People like the idea of giving locally. All this goes to Douglas County kids and they are very appreciative,” she said.

Malkmus said that volunteers from Rite of Passage and Aurora Pines were doing the grunt work.

“We have a corps of regular volunteers here today because these are the people the families know,” she said. “We want it to be confidential. They appreciate this and are so pleased to have a Christmas with their families.”

“We do it all for kids,” said Malkmus. “There will be lots of happy kids for Christmas.”

Deanna Abbott, director of the Books for Children program, said that the nearly 700 children who signed up for the Angel Tree also received books.

“A lot of generous supporters donate books. I haven’t had to buy books this year because of the generous community,” Abbott said.

“I had the leadership class from Pau-Wa-Lu and they wrapped almost all the books. They wrote labels and wrapped presents and did a great job,” she said. “We got a lot accomplished in the first two days because so many people came to help. Our community steps up every year.”

Dan and Gloria Seaton just moved here in April and were some of the volunteers who showed up to help. The Seatons had come to Carson Valley to visit friends last year and saw what the Project Santa program accomplished.

“I said that if we ever moved here, we’ve got to get involved,” Dan Seaton said.

Dan Seaton helped with the bikes and Gloria Seaton speaks Spanish so was helping as a translator.

“This is a very rewarding challenge,” said Dan Seaton.

Another family new to Carson Valley were in line at the fairgrounds Thursday as Project Santa Claus recipients. The family of eight moved from Southern California to the Valley this year.

“We came with only a car and a bunch of clothes and people flocked in and helped,” said the grandmother.

“It’s hard to start all over,” said her husband, “but this is a completely different planet.”

“This is super,” the grandmother said. “This is going to help our grandchildren celebrate Christmas. Project Santa helped a lot of people who wouldn’t have anything.”

“If it wasn’t for Project Santa,” agreed a young mother of two, “my kids would just have a tree.”