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Giving is the gift

Rhonda Costa
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Brad Horn/Nevada AppealDagen Kipling, 10, right, and Brooklyn Stepro, 10, both fifth-grade students at Fritsch Elementary School, fill hygiene items into bags at Kipling's home on Friday. Dagen collected toiletries to give to kids in the "Food for Thought" program.
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For Tonya Showalter, it’s the thought of making a difference in one person’s life that moves her to give.

“It’s all about compassion,” Showalter said. “Everybody should have someone who cares about them.”

Showalter was at SlotWorld on Tuesday afternoon and stopped at the angel tree to see what it was all about. She talked with Player’s Club Manager Molly Cady and discovered each of the tags represented a resident at Evergreen Mountainview Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carson City.

“I’m just going to pick one because it’s someone who needs something,” Showalter said.

With that, she hugged Cady and went about her way.

Cady said SlotWorld began the angel tree four years ago with the center as part of their community involvement.

“I found out from the activity director at that time ” Shirley Paul, who is now deceased ” that not only did some of the residents not have visitors, but they didn’t get any gifts at Christmas,” Cady said. “That’s just sad.”

Cady said when she walked through the doors of the center with an armload of gifts that first year, the residents got excited and said, “Oh, look, Santa Claus is here,” followed by hoots and hollers and lots of hugs.

“I feel, this year, people are more charitable even when they have less,” Cady said.

There were 84 tags on the tree after Showalter made her selection. Cady is asking the community to “adopt” the remaining names. SlotWorld is also a drop-off location for Toys for Tots.

As a Hanukkah project, 10-year-old Dagan Kipling of Carson City is giving to the Food for Thought program. Knowing some of his classmates may be using the program, he talked to his mom, Brenda, and said, “I wonder if these kids have toothbrushes and toothpaste.”

“So Dagan made it his project to make toiletry kits for all these kids,” said Brenda. “He sent letters to his orthodontist and dentist asking for toothbrushes and toothpaste, mouthwash and dental floss. The kits also have soap, shampoo and hair conditioner.

“He’s filling 301 bags for the kids to be distributed on the Dec. 19. He wants them to have the kits before winter break. I think he’s got an old soul. He really is a good kid.”

– Contact Rhonda Costa at rcosta@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.