Teri Vance: Carson City girls bring Christmas cheer
Riley Kuhlman, 11, finds it easy to get into the Christmas spirit — she has a happy home with gifts under the tree.
But she knows not everyone is so fortunate.
“We were talking about Christmas and stuff,” she said. “We knew a lot of families wouldn’t be able to buy stuff this year, and we wanted to make a difference.”
She and her friend Kylie Green, 13, usually volunteer for Holiday with a Hero, which provides $100 gift cards to children in the Carson City School District who don’t have a stable home.
Police, first responders and other community heroes are paired with children in the McKinney-Vento program — which serves students living in motels, cars, campgrounds or with other families — for a shopping spree.
Because of COVID-19, however, the fundraising efforts for Holiday with a Hero were canceled.
So the Carson Middle School girls set about to find a way to raise money on their own.
“They wanted to do something special for Holiday with a Hero,” said Riley’s mom, Emily Kuhlman. “The girls decided they wanted to help out since they couldn’t volunteer with the Holiday Crawl.”
On a sweep through the dollar store, they found a spoon made from candy cane, and it sparked an idea.
The idea evolved into hot cocoa kits — mugs with cocoa packets, marshmallows and the peppermint spoons. They set the price at $5.
The girls started by selling them in their neighborhood then expanded to social media.
“People just kept buying them,” Riley recalled. “It was so surprising, we didn’t think we were going to sell that much.”
In the end, they raised $1,245 for the program — enough to fund 12 children in need.
“We’re lucky to get gifts every year,” Kylie said. “It’s sad to think that some kids don’t. We wanted to make sure that they do.”
Operating under modified conditions, Holiday with a Hero served 250 children in the Carson City School District with the shopping spree this year.
Volunteers collected the wish lists of children in the program — including two items of necessity, such as shoes, clothing or personal hygiene. Volunteer shoppers purchased the items using a $100 gift card to Walmart.
The gifts, along with wrapping supplies, were delivered to families at the individual schools.
The girls said they feel satisfied knowing they were part of making Christmas merry for some of Carson City’s most vulnerable.
They also learned something about their neighbors.
“A lot of people in this community really care,” Kylie said.