Grand County’s Secret Santa Shop offers Christmas joy to kids
Christmas is just under two weeks away and folks throughout the county and country are scrambling to finish last minute preparations for the big day. For some of the youngsters of Grand County that means heading to Grand Lake for the annual Secret Santa Shop put on by Grand Angels and the Rotary Club of Grand Lake.
For many parents the final push before Christmas means decorating the house and tree, readying plans for travel or guests, prepping for the Christmas feast and last minute gifts for the little ones. As parents focus their efforts on insuring a great Christmas experience for their kiddos they often forget part of that whole experience is the joy that comes from giving to others.
In the hustle and bustle of the season it is easy to lose track of the reality that children derive as much pleasure from giving gifts as adults do. To insure all Grand County residents have a merry Christmas the Grand Angels and the Rotary Club of Grand Lake pairs up each year for an event called the Secret Santa Shop.
The Secret Santa Shop gives local families an option when it comes to gifts children can give their parents. County parents can bring their little ones to the Secret Santa Shop from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday Dec. 16 and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 17 so the youngsters can pick out presents to give to mom and dad. The Secret Santa Shop will be held in the Grand Lake Community House at the Grand Lake Town Square.
At the Secret Santa Shop children will be able to peruse a collection of donated gift items and pick one out for their parents at no charge. Volunteers working on site will wrap the gifts as well as help the youngsters pick out the best item for their folks. The event organizers ask parents not enter the Shop, so mom and dad don’t see what they are getting until Christmas day.
A flyer from the Grand Angels about the Secret Santa Shop states the program can also provide a $10 gas voucher to help parents get to and from the Secret Santa Shop. The Secret Santa Shop is intended for families in Grand County who may be struggling with the extra expenses of the holiday season, though Grand Angels does not turn any children away.
The importance of providing children with an opportunity to give presents to their parents is hard to put in to words. A press release from Grand Angels issued this year relates the story of one child who was overwhelmed by his experience at the Shop stating, “one tearful child staring down at his Christmas presents for his parents. ‘This is so special. I have never been able to afford a gift for my parents. Thank you!” The press release goes on to state, “After Christmas, we have heard from parents of how their children were more excited for them to open their gifts than the kids were to open their own.”
Preparations for the 2016 Secret Santa Shop got underway on Monday this week as members of Grand Angels and other volunteers organized the large collection of donated items. “The outpouring of generosity in this county is overwhelming. It is just amazing,” said Deb Gahan, a member of the Grand Angels team who helps coordinate the Secret Santa Shop. “We had about 20 volunteers show up today (Monday) to get it set up. We still have people calling asking us what we need. Grand County cares and shares, it is amazing!”
The Grand Angels and Grand Lake Rotary Club are still seeking volunteers to assist with the program this weekend and are looking for present wrappers and greeters. The Grand Angels encourages Middle Park High School students to volunteer with the program. The Secret Santa Shop is a qualified event for MPHS students to work on completing their community service hour requirements for graduation.
Last year the Secret Santa Shop welcomed 225 Grand County kids who participated in the program. “Last year was extremely successful,” said Gahan. “The doors were supposed to open last year at 10 a.m. and at 9:45 a.m. we had 40 people lined up already waiting for us to open.”
This is the sixth year the Secret Santa Shop will operate in Grand County. The program was initially operated from the Winding River Resort before being held in Granby during its second year. The Secret Santa Shop has operated from the Grand Lake Community House every year since leaving Granby.
If you would like to donate to the Secret Santa Shop you can drop off items at Mountain Lake Properties in Grand Lake or at the Greater Granby Chamber of Commerce Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also schedule donation drop offs by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Grand Angel hotline at 970-626-3510 and leaving a message.
The Secret Santa Shop program also accepts monetary donations. Checks or can donations can be sent to Grand Angels PO Box 676 Grand Lake. With any cash or check donations please designate the donation for the Secret Santa Shop. Grand Angels is a 501(c)(3) organization.
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Grand County voters will be deciding on a number of issues this November from tax increases to school board memberships. Ballots were mailed out last week and Election Day is Nov. 2.