The Virginia City Volunteer Fire Department began its tradition 69 years ago of giving elementary school-age children and their siblings Christmas gifts. The effort had much to do with the families being a part of a caring community.
Not wanting any child to go without the joy and excitement of opening a gift on Christmas Day, members of the fire department hold fund-raisers throughout the year to purchase toys and hold a Christmas party for the children. Fund-raisers include craft fairs and, this year, the first Tee it Up for Kids golf tournament.
"It's really great this has stayed intact all these years," Virginia Nevin said. She is the daughter of Martin and Edna Rosso, who helped begin the tradition.
Others involved with the program's beginning include Hugh and Lola Gallagher, Rene and Delbert Benner, and Frank and Dorothy Fisher.
Those that continue the program today include Nevin's husband, Mike, a retired Virginia City fire chief; son and daughter-in-law, Jeff and Dore Nevin; and daughter, Sheri Nevin, who is the administrative assistant at the fire department. Other longtime families, including that of Volunteer Fire Chief Joe Curtis, continue the tradition with the help of the firefighters, their families and the community.
Thursday's party at Virginia City Middle School's gymnasium included an 18-foot Christmas tree and gifts for 227 children.
"We send a letter home to the parents asking for information like boy, girl, age and information on their siblings," Virginia Nevin said. "We also ask for information on neighbors who may need assistance. We get gifts for children up to fifth grade.
"From there, our elves help Santa do all the shopping. The firemen then wrap all the presents and deliver them. And Santa will be there to talk with the children."
Nevin said Santa has arrived in various modes of transportation over the years, but nonetheless, he's there. Accommodations have included a roof top, golf cart and sleigh.
"Each child receives a toy, a stocking with fruit, nuts and candy, and gets to visit with Santa," Nevin said. "This is a lot of fun. We love doing it."