Rotary’s Christmas for Kids Puts Big Smiles on Young Faces
By Carolyn Schuk

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Rotary’s Christmas for Kids Puts Big Smiles on Young Faces

The most fun was "getting presents and meeting Santa," said fourth graders Janelle, Marisela and Stephanie.

That was something every one of the 135 young guests could agree on at the Santa Clara Rotary Club’s annual Christmas for Kids. The Dec. 11 event featured activities, lunch, gifts and a visit from Santa - played as always by retired Santa Clara Unified principal, Bob Buchser.

Every year for more than 20 years, a local Rotary Club has provided holiday cheer and a brand new winter coat to disadvantaged local children. This year’s guests were from Briarwood, Bracher and Montague elementary schools.

The students invited to the Rotary event often come from families facing economic hardships - parents who are underemployed, have lost jobs, lost a home, or face other kinds of crise. Some are in special education. Some have behavior problems and some are English language learners. For some, these will be the only gifts under the Christmas Tree. For others, there might not even be a tree to put them under.

Whatever the reason, they’re children who need a little extra attention, and a little extra help.

And so, thanks to the Santa Clara Rotary, for one day these kids get to enjoy some VIP attention. "It’s so rewarding to see the smiles on their face," said event chairman Elizabeth Mayo.

In addition to the hardworking Santa Clara Rotary Club members, high school Rotary Interact members and Cabrillo Middle School students who volunteered their time - including Carleen Carver and Linda Clarke who shopped all year for the toys that the children took home by the bagful - many local businesses contributed to make the event a success.

Lexus of Stevens Creek supplied the venue, Christmas trees, toys and the bow-wrapped Lexus convertible in which Santa arrived. "It’s been a great partnership working with them on this event," said Mayo.

Rotary’s Christmas for Kids Puts Big Smiles on Young Faces

As they have for many years, Holder’s Country Inn provided lunch and Royal Couch Tours contributed transportation. Walmart of Almaden provided a donation toward the warm, new winter coat that each youngster took home - as well as delivering the coats in the sizes and styles specified by Carlene Carver, who gathered the measurements for each student to make sure coats fit.

For nearly 80 years, Santa Clara Rotary has been giving its time and energy to serve the community, with a special focus on young people.

In addition to Christmas for Kids, Santa Clara Rotary Club sponsors Steps for Success - which ensures that students start the school year in properly fitting new shoes - and the Enterprise Leadership program that teaches business skills to teens. The club’s weekly lunch meetings are Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. at the Bay Club Santa Clara, 3250 Central Expressway. For information, visit www.santaclararotary.org.