Bringing joy to Carson City’s children
Increasing the Joy, a cooperative gift-giving event at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Nevada, attracted hundreds for presents on Saturday.Children from across the community came to the club with family or friends for lunch, hot chocolate and cookies before receiving a wrapped and age-appropriate present. Kids from infancy to age 11 jammed the club proper and cars overflowed in the slushy parking lot at noon.“I think next year we’re going to have to go to the (Carson City) Community Center,” said Pastor Stan Friend, head pastor at Capital Christian Center in Carson City.This is the eighth year for such an event with the church involved, though just the second with it citywide, according to Pastor Justin Simmons, also from Capital Christian.The cooperative venture this year involved the space at the club, 10 business named and several other donors who preferred to remain anonymous. The kids, who also could get a picture with Santa, enjoyed being the focus of all the joy.“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Sebastion Ramirez, a Fremont Elementary School third-grader who just turned nine on Dec. 6. His mom, Amber Ballam, echoed that sentiment.“I think it’s really nice,” said the animal control officer with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department.As they stopped to share their views on the event, Sebastion’s mom said he hopes to get Legos on Christmas day. He grinned as he clutched his wrapped gift and a die cast toy vehicle, one of the extras available when children exited the club.Outside, brothers Wesley and Kenneth Villagrana, along with Jerry Carlo, were huddled around gift items as snow fell and the parking lot began to empty out about 1 p.m. Kenneth and Jerry both said they attend Empire Elementary School.The event, which ran from noon until 2 p.m., brought together the crowd of children and more than 1,300 gifts. There also were raffle tickets handed out for families to have a chance at six turkeys and four hams.Pastor Simmons and Brenda Simpson, operations director at the southeast Carson City Christian center, said about 4,500 invitations to children had gone out before the event from the church, the club and through elementary schools.Among the many volunteers helping to dispense the gifts were adults Carolyn Melia and Veronica Sheldon, along with Veronica’s daughter, Helen. “This is fantastic; it’s really great,” said Melia. Both she and Sheldon said it was their first time at such a citywide cooperative effort spreadheaded by their church, as it was Helen’s.Sheldon said she wanted her daughter to help out, as she indeed did. As other children came into the gift-dispensing area an adult would call out the age and gender, which Helen or others would then select from nearby tables for each recipient.