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Wishes turn to Christmas gifts

In less than 90 minutes, employees with Churchill County Social Services and CC Communications handed out on Dec. 22 large black plastic bags stuffed with toys, clothes and a blanket to 37 families as part of this year’s yearly Wishing Tree program.

During the last two months, the volunteers who support the program held their collective breaths, waiting for donations to arrive. Then Dawn Ballard, a member of the CC Communications Independent Telecommunications Pioneer Association, and others shopped the area stores searching for the right gifts to fulfill those wishes.

“The community came through,” Ballard said. “We received a lot more monetary donations and did a lot more shopping that in previous years.”

Watching the big smiles of parents is what keeps people like Ballard and others volunteering each year. The community continues to surprise her each year.

“The hospital staff came through and adopted 10 families, and a lot of the kids received a quilt from the Hearts of Gold quilters. Each quilt is stitched with love and shows someone who cares.”
According to volunteer Deb Tilley, each family received more than what they requested because of the community’s outpouring of support.

Dave Tilley, right, of CC Communications takes a bag of toys and clothes to a vehicle with the help of LaKrisha Ernst, Churchill County Facilities/Parks & Recreation. Photo by Steve Ranson.
Steve Ranson / LVN. Cristan Underwood, left, and Manny Lopez of Churchill County Social Services assisted with the Wishing Tree program.

Volunteers handed out the bags at CC Communications’ building and maintenance building on South Maine Street. Because of the pandemic, parents drove into the parking lot and received their bags in front of an open bay door.

Cristan Underwood, project coordinator for Social Services, and Manny Lopez, a case worker with Social Services, checked the paperwork presented by each family. Underwood said the program also had many people who called to offer their support for the wishing tree.

“We had about the same or a little less (eligible participants) than last year,” Lopez said. “We had a lot of people call after the deadline.”

Beginning in August of each year, the Wishing Tree program begins accepting applications and determines eligibility. In early October, the call goes out for families to be adopted.

Steve Ranson/LVN. Santa Claus (David Baumbach) finishes his work with Wishing Tree and leaves in his yellow sleigh.

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