Santa shares Kiwanis joy with tots

By Geoff Lee

December 21, 2017 12:24 PM

Leah Lange, a Grade 1 student at Jack Kemp Elementary School, gave Santa a hug during a school visit last Thursday with Kiwanis elf Debie Schulze on the right handing each kid a bag of gifts. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

It’s a Wonderful Life, the young child version, played out at all Lloydminster public and Catholic schools last week through Santa’s Project.
It’s an annual charity of the Lloydminster Kiwanis Club to have Santa Claus hear last minute wishes from every pre K to Grade 2 student in the Border City and hand out gifts.
“They get a chance to visit Santa and the elves—they love it and so do we,” said Kiwanis rep, Vera Gallant at Jack Kemp Elementary School last Thursday.
“This is our 34th Santa’s Project that’s going on in all the schools.”
Somehow Santa knew all of the kids’ names with a Kiwanis elf on hand to present each one of them with a bag filled with goodies delivered from the North Pole.
“Kiwanis supplies a toy, chocolates, chips, a candy cane and a Christmas orange and we hand them out to every pre-K to Grade 2 students in all the schools,” explained Gallant.
This year’s Santa’s Project started last Tuesday and wrapped on Friday with Santa making the rounds.
“When you hear what some of the kids ask for, it brings you to tears because they are very thoughtful of the other kids or their siblings and want to make sure their siblings get something and Santa doesn’t have to worry about them,” said Gallant.
“We’re seeing that more and more that they are asking for the basics—to me this is what Christmas is all about, seeing their smiley faces and knowing we can bring joy into their lives.”
The event is also moving for Alex Gray, who is experiencing his third Santa’s Project, and explained what it means to him.
“Just bringing the joy to the kids’ faces knowing that every child is going to have something for their Christmas,” he said.
He noted the toy in the bag was some Play-Doh and when it was his turn with Santa he asked just to make sure everyone is a happy person.
Harry Harder is second year member of Kiwanis, who said it’s bringing some joy to little kids that means a lot to him.
He phrased it this way: “All the little children with smiles on their faces and just how happy they are to be here and receive some stuff from Santa Claus.”
Kindergarten teacher Shelly Hozack said of Santa’s Project, “It’s one of the most exciting days of our year in K to Grade; it’s awesome.
“Kiwanis does a wonderful job to give every child from pre K to Grade 2 in Lloydminster a treat bag and a chance to see Santa.”
Hozack said she has had the privilege of working with the public school division and having the Kiwanis Santa come over for the last 15 years.
“Every time they come, it’s so highlighting for the children—for some of these little people, this could be the highlight of their year,” she said.
Hozack was one of many teachers who took photos of their students having the ear of Santa.
“I like to take photos because not everyone gets a chance to go to the mall and get a picture, so I make sure I take a photo,” she said for her class album.
“I love the way Santa responds that he will do his best.”
Her own wish to Santa was “Just to have my family home and close around me and peace,” said Hozack.
“It’s sounds like a cliche, but it’s all you want for these little people, to be surrounded by lots of love.”

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