With just less than a month to go before this year’s Holiday with a Hero, organizer Sgt. Daniel Gonzales said the organization has only met about a quarter of its fundraising goal.
He said it’s likely the organization, which pairs volunteers from the community with children who meet the federal guidelines for homelessness for a Christmas shopping trip, will be able to raise enough money serve kindergartners through fifth-graders.
“Even at that, we’re looking at about 200 kids,” he said.
Children who qualify for the Carson City School District’s Children in Transition program live in cars, campgrounds, motels or double up with other families.
They are typically given a $100 gift card and paired with a volunteer from law enforcement, the medical field and other business and community leaders to shop for gifts at Walmart.
“These are Carson City kids, right here in our backyard,” Gonzales said. “Circumstances are stacked against these kids. This is a way we can help.”
Gonzales said to serve the 200 elementary school-aged children — which excludes about 200 additional students in middle and high school — Holiday with a Hero needs to raise about $20,000. So far, he said, about $5,000 has been collected.
In it’s 10th year, fundraising for Holiday with a Hero kicked off a month ago with a $10 for 10 weeks campaign, encouraging businesses and individuals to commit to pledging $10 a week for 10 weeks and challenging others to do so. Gonzales said people can jump in now, committing to $20 a week or whatever is plausible.
“We’ve had people donate $3,” he said. “It all helps.”
In years past, lunch for participating students has been provided by a fast-food restaurant. This year, the food will be prepared by Carson High School’s culinary arts class.
“It gives my students a better appreciation for what’s going on around them,” said teacher Penny Reynolds. “They’re excited about it. We’re going to make it fun.” Donations can be dropped off at Carson City Sheriff’s Office, 911 E. Musser St.; Students in Transition building, 604 W. Musser St., Building 2; Bank of the West, 2976 N. Carson St.; Carson City Visitors Bureau, 716 N. Carson St.; Grandma Hattie’s Restaurant, 2811 S. Carson St.; Graphics Factory, 1442 E. William St., Suite 1.
Gonzales said as a police officer, he often sees people — including these children — on the worst days of their life. Taking them shopping allows him to see them on one of their best days.
“We’re able to have a dialog with these kids,” he said. “They’re able to see we care about them.”