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THE SEASON OF GIVING: Charities host last big push before the holidays

It’s the season for giving and local organizations have been taking donations since before Thanksgiving getting prepared for the Christmas holidays where less fortunate children and families benefit with meals, food baskets, toys for the children and other festivities. The last big push is this weekend.

For a small community, it’s amazing what Pahrump can accomplish in the amount of assistance for needy families.

One local charity got a late start and is still taking donations. Christmas the Cowboy Way, founded three years ago by Ken “Cowboy” Pyle, has partnered with Pahrump Equestrian Trail Riders Association (PETRA) to gather donations and host fundraisers to feed families and provide toys for less fortunate children around the valley.

Pyle has been running the program for five years, but became a non-profit three years ago to better serve more families.

Each year, the organization hosts a party with games, Santa and Mrs. Claus, toy giveaways and food at the Maverick Saloon &Dance Hall on Mesquite Avenue. Last year, it brought smiles to 37 families here. More less fortunate are expected for this year’s event.

PETRA sponsors “Saddle Back Santa” trail rides for its members and the public as a fundraiser. The group meets at various locations, usually at the edges of the valley, for a two- or three-hour trail ride and lunch. The fees go to Christmas the Cowboy Way. One final event will take place tomorrow evening at the Bounty Hunter bar on East and Second streets. The donation of a new, unwrapped toy gets the donator a free drink. The Christmas party and giveaway will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Maverick.

The Tribe Motorcycle Club will hold its annual bike run to deliver food and toys beginning at 9:30 a.m. this Sunday. Tribe member and organizer Red Pillman said riders come from Las Vegas, Utah, California and as far away as Oregon to participate. Last year’s event brought 75 bikes and more riders out to brave the cold and bring smiles to the faces of local residents. A number of cars also joined the brigade along with trucks carrying the food and toys.

Tribe MC members donate to the cause as does Oasis Outreach and a number of local businesses. Last year, the group delivered food and gifts to 32 area families. “We get donations from all over. Local businesses help us a lot and the members themselves donate to it as well — even from other states,” Pillman said.

One last Christmas food drive is scheduled for this weekend as well. Karen Jackson of KNYE Radio will be taking donations of both perishable and non-perishable food items from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday at Smith’s Food &Drug.

Jackson said, “It used to be we could only collect non-perishable things but we’ve got a way to refrigerate things like meat and dairy now. She said the donations will benefit local food banks.

The local VFW is also a part of this food drive but its needs differ as the food bank is specifically for veterans. Jackson said, “We need donations of personal hygiene items in travel sizes and foods which require no cooking.” She said pop-top cans are helpful as well as single-serving items. Also needed are paper products and waterless hand sanitizer.

The Salvation Army still has its volunteer bell ringers at Smith’s, Albertson’s and Walmart, but that will end soon. The organization passed out Christmas dinner baskets and toys yesterday. The Salvation Army Angel Trees have been set up in various locations around town to provide a name and a wish list for less fortunate children.

The Toys for Tots campaign is still taking donations but is in distribution mode as well. The warehouse on Basin Avenue is the place where organizations go to fill toy wish lists. The organization, headed by the Marine Corps League, furnishes toys to other organizations to help them meet the needs of registered families. The Salvation Army benefits from Toys for Tots, as do other organizations which provide gifts for younger children.

Toys for Tots will have a donation truck at Walmart Saturday and Sunday for a last-minute drive before Christmas.

As a holiday pick-me-up for residents of Inspirations Senior Living on Java Avenue, PETRA will hold a costume contest for horses with the facility residents acting as the judges. PETRA communications director Doug Shaw said, “It’s not a fundraiser, it’s just something to bring a smile.”

The contest begins at noon, judging will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

NyE Communities Coalition is still seeking volunteers to help with the community Christmas dinner set from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Christmas day at the NyECC campus on Wilson Road. Program manager Tim Wigchers said, “The number of key people and volunteers fluctuates. The Holiday Task Force is responsible for two meals and an Easter picnic every year. It’s great to have all the cooks and servers for the meals, but none of it would happen without the committee members who organize and manage the details.

The final meeting of the Task Force will be at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 23 in the multi-purpose room. “If someone is interested, all they need to do is come to the meeting.”

Opportunities to get involved with the community abound. There’s still time to give. It’s the season.

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