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Wishing Tree meets the needs of Fallon’s children

Steve Ranson Nevada News Group

This year youngsters asked for bedding and clothes

Less than three weeks ago, fulfilling the wishes of every family needing assistance from The Wishing Tree program looked bleak.

With 14 families waiting to be adopted, organizers prayed for a miracle as the days passed.

Days before the annual distribution, Dawn Ballard of CC Communications said the Fallon community came through and ensured all 108 children received gifts. Ballard and the other Santa’s helpers were ecstatic.



“Three weeks ago, we were short, and I was panicking,” she said. “The city made a large donation which was really helpful.”

Ballard will remember this coronavirus pandemic year and the barriers by trying to make Christmas brighter for those more unfortunate. She said people would email or fax her to select a child or family in need, but others donated money and Ballard and her assistants would shop for toys and clothes.



“We had a lot of kids asking for bedding and clothes,” she said. “They all wanted underwear and socks. Nothing really extravagant, no play stations, but we had more requests for Barbies and Legos this year.”

CC Communications Independent Telecommunications Pioneer Association, Churchill County Social Services and community members ensured Wishing Tree met the needs of families.

Shannon Ernst, director of Churchill County Social Services, said it was a goal to keep as much of the program in its present format but in a safe manner.

“This is a challenge,” she said. “How can we do it and do it safely.”

With the Nevada Army National Guard armory unavailable because of pandemic protocols, Social Services used a drive-through procedure similar to that used for residents needing a COVID-19 test. Parents checked in at an entrance point and then drove to a parking space near the multipurpose building. County employees then loaded bags of gifts into the vehicles. The Wishing Tree program and its volunteers received rave reviews from the parents.

“This program is amazing,” said Katie (last name withheld). “This is my second year doing this. The people are wonderful.”

Katie picked up toys and clothing for her two children and two foster children. She was surprised people were still willing to donate because of the unemployment.

“I was surprised,” said Sara, a mother of three children. “Everyone is helping out as much as they can.”