Rotary Club Treats Kids to the Best Christmas Party in Town
By Diane Andrews
What a Christmas party! One hundred and fifty-two children–this year from Bowers, Hughes and Scott Lane Elementary Schools–arrived in four chartered Royal Coach buses at Lexus of Stevens Creek, December 10th at 10:45 a.m., for the best party in town, thrown just for them by the Rotary Club of Santa Clara.
The children were hugged and high-fived by Sharkie, the San Jose Sharks mascot, as they disembarked the busses and entered the Lexus dealership at 3333 Stevens Creek Blvd. Eight lighted Christmas trees decorated the large breezeway that normally holds automobiles.
The excited children sat around tables coloring and giggling at the antics of Sharkie, who worked the room like the pro he is.
"I like Sharkie because he kisses me," said one admiring student.
Cabrillo Middle School leadership class members and Wilcox High School Interact Club volunteers, a few wearing Rudolph antlers or Santa caps, monitored the fun at each table.
"Helping these kids warms my heart. It makes me feel happy," said Wilcox student Christina Telebrico.
Children stood in lines, waiting their turn to have Angie Lopes (www.facepaintingsantaclara.com) or Interact volunteers paint their faces. The Rotarians donned aprons to dish up and serve the children a hot lasagna lunch, prepared by Holder's Country Inn.
Then at noon, the excitement–and the noise level–peaked as Santa Claus arrived, riding in the roomy, open trunk of a red 2016 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport, decorated with a winter snow landscape–definitely a hot car for a cool guy. Santa's favorite Elf, Rotarian Carolyn Grewal, was standing and waving from the open sun roof of the festive car.
"It's wonderful because the kids are so excited," said the annual Santa, Rotarian Bob Buchser, who wore a Santa suit tailor-made for him some years ago by his Aunt Josephine. "We're doing a real community service for these kids."
The children come from low-income families, explained Christmas party chair Libby Mayo. Santa gives each one a winter jacket, pre-ordered in the correct size, and a bag of six to eight new toys, one wrapped, to be opened Christmas day. The Rotarians shopped all year long for the toys, looking for sales, and Lexus gave a discount to customers who donated new toys. Each child got to sit on Santa's lap for a souvenir Polaroid snapshot.
"This is an amazing event. For some of the kids, these are the only gifts they'll get," said Scott Lane Elementary School secretary Claudia Bonilla. "The kids are really excited. And we are, too!"
"Our focus for many years has been on investing in youth. They are our future," said Rotary Club president Andrew Ratermann. "We believe we can really affect the lives of the youth of our community." In 2014, the Rotary Club of Santa Clara (www.santaclararotary.org) raised and distributed $150,000 to community causes.
"Santa gave me presents that he knew I wanted–a chapter book and a jacket," said second grader Giselle Arellano from Bowers School.
"I think it's cute. I like it," she said, laying her cheek against the soft, pink lining of her new, blue jacket with little pink flowers.