Children and their mentors gathered for the second annual Mentor Center Christmas party, hosted by Wells Fargo Bank at the South Carson Street branch Wednesday night.
Specially made wreaths and Christmas trees decorated the lobby. The children played games like "hit the snowman," and Kris Kringle made a special appearance, putting youngsters on his knee and handing out Christmas stockings.
"It's a pretty good party," said 11-year-old Tlaloc Lara, a sixth-grader at Eagle Valley Middle School. "I won the snowman and the Rudolph toss."
The community-supported program matches young people with adults and older teen role models. It offers one-on-one mentoring at least one hour a week.
Center director Ruth Gordon said the idea for the party originated with the children in the program.
"Every third month, we try to do something as a group, and we found that the kids love to get together," she said. "Most of the children probably aren't involved in other organized groups. With this organization, they have a feeling of belonging, and they love it."
Dressed in Santa hats, about 15 volunteers from Wells Fargo Bank supervised the games and acted as hosts. Floral designer Janet Snipes from Greenhouse Garden Center created and donated wreaths, swags and three Christmas trees. John Hurzel of Grandma Hattie's restaurant catered the event, and Liz Rhow of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage helped with the prizes.
"We do a lot of networking with other mentoring centers nationally, and none of them receives this level of community support," Gordon said. "We're unique."
The Carson City program was founded in 2000 and helps 44 school-age children. Another 17 are on the waiting list.
It's funded through a federal grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and grants from Carson City, Carson-Tahoe Hospital, the Carson City School District and Western Nevada Community College.