Adele’s hosting annual Cookies with Santa

Michelle Hawkins

Michelle Hawkins

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Cookies with Santa takes place Saturday, Dec. 17, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Cafe at Adele’s, in what has become one of Carson City’s defining holiday events. All money and gifts collected goes to Ron Woods Family Resource Center for Toys for Tots.

Santa arrives from his home in the historic district to spend time with children of all ages, hear their wants and wishes and have his picture taken with them, all with the intention to collect unwrapped gifts and raise money to ensure that Carson City and Dayton-area children all have a Christmas.

“This is one of my favorite events each year, and it is unique in that there is no pressure,” said Tom Strekal, the area’s most authentic and busy Santa. “It is such a special environment, and I love being able to draw the parents in, too.”

“As the economy has improved there is less need; we will serve about 2,500 children this year ,” said Joyce Buckingham, Ron Woods executive director. “The greatest need that we have is for young people pre-teen through teenager; the little ones are always provided for, but their siblings are often forgotten.”

Adults are asked to bring one unwrapped toy and cost is $5 per adult. There is no cost for children to attend, and cookies and cocoa are served.

Buckingham suggests that sporting goods, art and crafts kits and games are good gifts for older children and are not gender-specific, meaning they can be used to fill need for both boys and girls.

Chef Charlie Abowd added that Cafe at Adele’s is also a collection point for Reno Rodeo Foundation’s Denim Drive, in which new denim clothing, shirts, socks and underwear is collected for abused, neglected and abandoned infants, children and teens rescued from unsafe homes. Items stay in the county in which they are collected, and the donation box will be at Adele’s through Dec. 23. Cash donations can be made year around at

“This is our way of ensuring we have some small part in putting a smile on a child’s face, both at Cookies for Santa, and at Christmas,” he said. “This is the season of love and sharing, and while it is good news that demand for services has lessened, even one child having need is unacceptable.”

Trent and Laurie Dowell of TD Photography will be on hand taking pictures of children of all ages, with Santa. Families will receive one print. Additional photos will be available on the TD Photography Facebook page.

“Of course this is something Laurie and I look forward to every year, and we love that we’re part of this,” Trent said. “The fun is that it is not limited to a specific age or size ... everyone can be a child this one day.”

That sentiment is one also voiced by Strekal.

“Something happens in the parents, too ... their childhood memories are stirred, and they really want the experience, rather than a distraction,” he said. “The beautiful part is that there is space and time to allow them to join in, there is no pressure on the children who can approach Santa at their own pace ... This is part of what makes Cookies with Santa so unique and special.”

This year, Santa will be joined by two local young “elves,” models Michelle Hawkins, 18, and Shylin Roberts, 14, with whom Trent is working to build their exposure and portfolios.

“We thought it would be fun to change things up a bit this year,” Trent said. “We always work to recruit new people to come out and support Cookies with Santa ... we look forward to this every year and want to spread the joy with others.”

Any family needing assistance this Christmas can call Ron Woods through Dec. 23 at (English speaking: 775-781-8838) or (Spanish speaking: 775-781-6079). Cafe at Adele’s is located at 1112 N. Carson St., Carson City, 775-882-3353.


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