Christmas came a little early for a pair of Sedona families thanks to the generosity of city of Sedona staff members. Santa was on hand — and with the assistance from a handful of his helpers — visited the homes of two deserving families on Thursday, Dec. 21, just in time for Christmas.
This is the sixth year the program has taken place. It ran from 2010 to 2012 and ever since from 2015.
“A group of staff members wanted to start a program that could add some Christmas cheer to a local family in need,” said Deputy City Clerk JoAnne Cook, who has organized Sub For Santa the last three years. “The response from staff has been incredibly generous. Participation is voluntary.”
Joining Cook and Santa to deliver gifts to the Zenteno Martinez and Carvajal Cruz families were city employees Warren Campbell, Victor Estrada and Allie Baxter. All seemed moved by the smiles and tears of appreciation shown by the children and the parents at both stops.
“Look at all those presents,” said 9-year-old Jesse Carvajal Cruz, who received presents along with his 4-year-old brother, Angelo, and their parents “It’s mind blowing. It’s so cool.”
As she wiped away tears, their mother, Fatima, said to the staffers, “Thank you. Thank you. God bless you all.”
The appreciation was the same in the Zenteno Martinez home where 8-year-old Belkin and 3-year-old Ashley received lots of toys and clothes hand-delivered by Santa.
“We are so grateful,” their mother, Darney, said. “This will be a very special Christmas for us.”
This is the first year that the city staff added a second family to adopt. “With the increased momentum of support over the past two years, we decided we could spread even more cheer by inviting an additional family to participate,” Cook said.
In 2015, the city approached West Sedona School staff to assist with identifying a family for the city to adopt. This year and last they teamed with Sedona Head Start to identify families. The families who attend the program qualify by their income level or by having a child with special needs.
City staff members, along with members of the city council, who participate do so both by financial donations to the program or they can purchase gifts from a list of items received from the families. The list is updated weekly for nearly a month, that way people know what items have already been selected.
In addition, families received gift cards from local merchants while this year, Over the Edge bike shop provided a bicycle at well below cost.
“I think it speaks volumes about the caliber of our team that they organize and participate in these kinds of activities,” City manager Justin Clifton said.
“This is not something that city management organizes. Our employees put this together because they care deeply about our community and its residents. We pay our employees to perform public service and many of them use that pay to perform more public service. I couldn’t say enough about how proud I am to work with that kind of a team.”
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