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December 28, 2010 > Holiday giving from Niles Rotary

Holiday giving from Niles Rotary

Submitted By Sandi Pantages

The Christmas holiday was made quite special for six Fremont families, thanks to a "Pizza With Santa" party on December 18 at the Centerville Presbyterian Church sponsored by Niles Rotary Club.

The party began with children and their parents gathered around a table full of craft supplies where the children were able to decorate picture frames they would later use for a family photo taken with Santa Claus. After the frames were artfully decorated, two gentle horses arrived for rides around the parking lot.

Most, if not all, of the children had never ridden or even petted a real horse before, so the rides were a special treat. The huge smiles and giggles of excitement were shared by the children, with Rotarians and parents taking photos of the kids on horses. One little girl could not have had a bigger, more beautiful smile, as she took several horse rides. Niles Rotary President Rakesh Sharma even took a ride. The horses were provided and walked by Niles Rotarians Manuel Franco and Sandra & Daren Young.

Next was the bounce house, where the children could jump about, getting ready for the arrival of Santa Claus. Each family posed with Santa and received their gifts. Santa was a Niles Rotarian, whose Santa resume included an education at Washington High School and a career as a professional football player. Photos of each family were taken and printed right away for the photo frames by Niles Rotarian John & Joan Kimber.

Gifts for the families were made possible by donations from many Niles Rotarians who also volunteered, along with their families, to help with the party. Gift shopping was done by Judy Zlatnik, who interviewed each family to learn of their needs. The families were so humble and careful with their "wish lists" that Judy had to remind them that the children could also receive toys in addition to the clothes and practical things they needed.

One girl got a small sewing machine and fabric because she liked to sew clothes for the family; another student (educationally inclined) just wanted a desk where he could do his homework. All were truly appreciative of their gifts. Judy shopped Fremont for most of the gifts, though a few things were purchased online. The families selected for the event were very low-income families, referred by the City of Fremont Human Services Department.

The party concluded with a pizza lunch. As the Niles Rotarians cleaned up after the party, event chairperson and Niles Rotarian Rose Everndon-Andrade said, "This is my most favorite day of the year! It is a gift to be able to provide something special for these families - we are blessed."

Earlier in December, Niles Rotary worked with the local Blue Star Moms to fund and pack 116 care packages for servicemen and women serving in our armed forces overseas. Niles Rotarian Bob Hagg chaired the project; packing was completed by Interact students from Fremont Christian and Washington High Schools with assistance from Niles Rotarians Steve & Terri Landon and Mary Lynn Pelican. Bob Hagg noted that the care packages bring a "little bit of home" to men and women serving around the world, especially young people who are not receiving boxes or letters from home.

These holiday projects are just a couple of many service projects of the Rotary Clubs in the area. For more information about local Rotary clubs, visit

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