Carson City Rotary Club celebrates 35 years of brightening the holidays for those in need |

Carson City Rotary Club celebrates 35 years of brightening the holidays for those in need

Rotarian Susie Messina helps Ka'Lea, 9, find a gift for her mother Saturday at the north Walmart in Carson City.
Brad Coman/Nevada Appeal |

Christmas came a little early for a group Carson City children.

The Rotary Club of Carson City held its annual shopping spree on Saturday, when about 20 kids shopped at Walmart to buy presents for their families with the assistance of Rotary members.

At the same time, unbeknownst to the kids, other Rotarians also were at the store, acting as secret shoppers, buying presents for the participating children.

Everyone met up at Carson Middle School, where the children wrapped their family members’ presents and then were surprised with their own gifts when Santa arrived on the scene.

“It’s cool. I wanted a video game, a FIFA 17 game,” said Braedyn, 12, who bought presents for his parents and grandmother.

Ka’Lea, who said she is turning 10 this month, shopped for her mother, father and older brother.

“I want LOL Surprise,” she said. “And little live baby doll. She crawls. She’s kind of like Barbie but she isn’t.”

The Rotary has been hosting the spree for 35 years, said Janna Tisea. “We started in 1982 with five kids,” she said. “In general we have 20 to 25 kids. This year we have 22.”

The children and their families are selected by the Salvation Army, who is working with them through its own Christmas programs. Rotary provides $25 per family member for the kids to purchase the presents.

“It’s my favorite thing we do,” said Mary Pierczynski, who said she’s been with the Rotary and participating in the spree since its start. “You meet some really nice kids and it’s always interesting to see what they want to get, especially for mom.”

The shopping can sometimes be tough, as Rotarian Leslie Near-Fliegler found out, because the kids don’t know there is a present waiting for them, too.

“I told her Santa and his elves were coming in,” while they shopped, said Near-Fliegler, who was assisted by two of her triplet daughters, Susan and Adele, who attend Carson High School.

By chance, as they were leaving, Santa and his elves did arrive for another event at the store.

“That gave credence to my story,” said Near-Fliegler. “And it put her back in the Christmas spirit.”

Dameon, who is turning 10 on Christmas, had the holiday spirit, too. He shopped for his mom, stepdad, sister and brother, and wrapped each present like an expert.

For himself, he wished for what lots of kids want.

“I just want my family to be more together,” said Dameon. “We don’t hang out a lot. If we’d hang out that would be better.”