Las Vegas did plenty of sharing last week. The Salvation Army, private citizens and students from East, West and Valmora donated their time to organize and distribute donated food, clothes, toys and books to families in need.
The event has been in place for about six years.
Carmen Gress, an organizer of the event, said participants had received 160 gifts to donate and prepared 85 boxes of nonperishable food items and fruit. Before the event began, there was a line snaking from the front doors of the city’s recreation center gym to the lobby. In addition to the clothes, food and books, inside the gym were brand-new bikes, big wheels, and wrapped gifts, all courtesy of Las Vegans.
The Angel Tree Program was responsible for the Santa-like distribution of the gifts. Before the event, the parents of a family were asked to make a Christmas list for their children and return it to the organizers. The organizers then hung ornaments with the names of the children and the items they wanted from trees in Wal-Mart. Citizens of Las Vegas removed the tags from the trees, purchased the items, and returned them to the Salvation Army, where they were wrapped.
Friends of the Library also took part in the event by donating 300 new books for all age groups with Books For Kids. At the People’s Faire earlier this year, the group sold used books to raise money for the new books in addition to a $600 grant from Community First Bank.
Students from Robertson, West and Valmora were volunteers at the event. Robertson brought MESA students, as one of their community givebacks, West brought four football players and four Key Clubbers, while Valmora sent anyone who wanted to volunteer.
West Las Vegas Key Club member Bonita Baca said, “I wanted to come, I do it every year with my mom.” West Las Vegas football Coach Mike Maldonado said, “We were asked to help carry bags and boxes. We like to do anything that helps the community.”
Robertson High School freshman Nicholas Aragon said, “I’m not in MESA, but I was just asked by Mr. Boyle to do it. It feels good when you do good.”
Valmora volunteer Stephenson Gipson said, “I’m on the ranch 90 percent of the year, so getting off ranch is a big deal. I decided to give back and hell, why not? It’s Christmas.”
Private citizens also volunteered, just to help out. Switzerland native Bruno Moser, a volunteer at one of the toy tables, said he knows people at the Salvation Army and that he liked giving back. He also said, “I’m the Swiss Santa Claus.” Volunteers Jennifer and Martha LaFebre said, “We did it to do some good, you should see the happy faces of these kids.”
Anselmo Gonzales, one of the recipients, has two sons who will benefit from the gifts.
“I don’t know what they’re getting, mom picks out all the gifts. There are a lot of poor people in this town, and everyone’s broke but it’s good that everyone helps each other out,” he said.