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Letters to Santa now in full swing

The Pahrump Lions Club is again asking kids to put pen to paper as the annual Letters to Santa campaign and Breakfast with Santa returns this month.

The program was created locally 13 years ago, where kids write Santa Claus a letter with a Christmas wish list.

Lions Club member Larry Bai said each letter is read and members do their best to fulfill the child’s request – if possible.

“We can’t really afford to go out and buy items like computers, cell phones and video game consoles, but we try to get them something on their list,” he said. “When push comes to shove, we get them something as close as we can to the item that they ask for, although we will not purchase anything that has to do with weapons or alcohol.”

In the inaugural year, Bai said he had roughly 35 kids who mailed letters.

At present, that number has increased considerably.

Bai said he coordinates with Pahrump’s main post office to retrieve the letters, which need to have an address, the child’s name and the parent’s phone number, along with the child’s gender.

“When Bob Philpot was the Pahrump postmaster, I asked him if I could have the letters and told them that I was going to deal with that,” he said. “He got permission from the post office to give me the letters and a number of years later, the employees built the big mailbox outside of the post office for us.”

With letters in hand Bai and other Lions Club members take to local stores where they shop for the items requested.

Once the shopping is over, members commence to wrapping the gifts, during what’s known as ‘wrapping parties.’

“We usually have two of those at my house,” he said. “One of them is during our regular meeting night and then the Sunday before the presents are delivered is the final wrapping party. The fun part about it is, all of the gifts are hand-delivered.”

Bai noted one poignant aspect of the program.

He said each year he receives letters requesting an item of necessity, rather than a toy or traditional Christmas gift.

“We forward those letters to one of the agencies that takes care that type of need,” he said. “The presents will start getting delivered the Sunday before Christmas and they will be delivered up until Christmas Eve. The deadline to receive these letters is the 18th of December.”

Along with the Letters to Santa program, the Lions Club also sponsors the Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 5, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The event will be held at Pahrump Valley Auto Plaza at 2060 E. Charleston Park Ave.

After nine years, Bai said the event allows for children and parents to visit with St. Nick.

“Kids up to age 12 are free and anybody over 12, there is a $5 per person donation,” he said. “It’s a pancake breakfast and this week I talked to the new manager of Walmart who is donating a lot of the foodstuffs for us. Santa will be there and we encourage the kids to also bring their letters to him as well. They can also have their picture taken if mommy or daddy wants to bring a camera with them and of course there is no charge for that. It’s just an opportunity for the kids to get into the holiday spirit.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @sharrispvt

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