Project Santa delivers to 618 kids | RecordCourier.com

Project Santa delivers to 618 kids

More than 600 children received some Christmas cheer during the 29th annual Project Santa.

In total 244 families benefited from the project, which wrapped up Sunday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, according to Gary Dove, Kiwanis Club of Carson Valley Project Santa Claus chairman.

Project Santa is a holiday charity project that provides gifts to those in need around the community. Children up to 17 years of age are qualified for the program by Douglas County Social Services, Washoe Tribe Social Services, Court Appointed Special Advocates or the Family Support Council.

Each child receives at least two gifts valued at about $30 each, and a new book. Children fifth grade and younger also receive a hat and mittens.

“It’s really a community project and a group involvement.”Gary Dove

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"The project takes about four months to coordinate from start to finish, which includes collecting and organizing the gifts," said Dove. "It's really a community project and a group involvement."

Dove said the total number of children served this year were down by about 115 compared to last year.

"There's various reasons as to why that is," said Dove. "In a perfect world, there would be no Project Santa, but that's why we do it; to help those in need and make their holiday a little better."

Kiwanis Club of Carson Valley has been the administrator of the program since 2011, sharing the load with local businesses and families who contribute their services by hosting angel trees with gift wishes and hats, mittens and books.

Donated bikes are repaired by the China Spring Youth Camp, which the Kiwanis Club has a yearlong program with.

For the past two years The Salvation Army has allowed Project Santa Claus to have the donated toys from their "Fill the Truck" day outside of the Grant Avenue Wal-Mart, said Dove.

"In turn of appreciation, Project Santa Claus members rang the bells and collected monetary donations for The Salvation Army during the first weekend of December," he said.

He added that any family who receives services from the Carson Valley Food Closet is qualified for Project Santa and a Christmas Dinner.

"Essentially, on distribution days the families pick up their gifts from the Project Santa distribution center, then they go to the food closet for their Christmas dinner," Dove said.

Besides the local business and services that contributed to the project, Dove said there were 189 volunteers who put in at least 2,400 hours to make the project happen.

"It was a successful turnout," said Dove. "Everyone is really involved in this and comes together to make it happen."

Dove said there were about a half dozen families who have yet to pick up their gifts.

"Between the Douglas County Social Services and the Washoe Tribe Social Services we are going to make an effort to get these children their gifts before Christmas," he said.