Volunteers seek donations to continue modified Holiday with a Hero
With the restrictions put in place across Nevada to curb the coronavirus pandemic, Holiday with a Hero organizers considered canceling this year’s event.
“But these kids need this now more than ever before,” said founder Carson City Sheriff’s Lt. Daniel Gonzales who created the event with his wife, Meliah. “They need happiness. They need cheer. I’m sure they’re in desperate need of some of these items.”
“We’ve run successfully for 16 years,” he said. “We’re not going to let a pandemic stop us from making it 17.”
So organizers got busy, finding a way to modify the program that traditionally pairs community volunteers with students in need for a $100 Christmas shopping spree at Walmart.
This year, school resource officers are meeting with children who qualify for the McKinney-Vento Students in Transition program, which serves students living in motels, cars, campgrounds or doubling up with other families.
Either via Zoom or socially distanced in person, “heroes” will collect the wish lists of children in the program — which includes two items of necessity, such as shoes, clothing or personal hygiene. The lists are then given to volunteer shoppers who will purchase the items using a $100 gift card to Walmart.
The gifts, along with wrapping supplies, will be delivered to families at the individual schools.
“A pandemic doesn’t stop Christmas,” Daniel Gonzales said. “Kids don’t understand that.”
Despite the determination of the committee to move forward, this year is presenting some specific challenges.
In adhering to the guidelines restricting in-person gatherings, the committee canceled the Holiday Crawl, its largest annual fundraiser.
“We are asking the community, who has been so good to us, to continue to help these kids in need,” said Meliah Gonzales, district court bailiff. “It doesn’t have to be anything extreme. If it’s $10, we’ll take it.”
Holiday with a Hero, made up primarily of volunteers from the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, Carson City Fire Department and other area public-safety agencies, is hoping to gift about 250 children in the Carson City School District with the shopping spree this year.
Matthew Smith, SRO sergeant for the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, said it’s about more than presents. It’s about sending a message of hope to the families in need.
“There is good out there. There is stability,” he said. “There is good coming their way. There are people out there who are willing to sacrifice to give them a Christmas.”