Grand Lake’s Secret Santa Shop lets kids pick presents for their parents
A couple hundred parents throughout the county will be receiving an extra present this holiday season, courtesy of the seventh annual Grand Lake Secret Santa Shop. On Dec. 15 and 16 kids from all over the county were invited to the Grand Lake Community House to pick out free gifts for their parents and pets, wrap their presents and meet Santa Claus.
“What we’re trying to do is plant seeds with kids that Christmas is about more than getting stuff, and teach them the joy of giving,” said Deb Gahan, who organized the event for six years.
Children leave their parents at the door, where volunteer elves take them through the room to pick out their presents and help them wrap their gifts. Afterward parents are invited back in to take pictures of their children meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the kids are given a stuffed animal and book on their way out.
Over 60 volunteers helped put on the event this year, tallying hundreds of hours of work to prepare.
“We’ve seen about 200 kids so far, so we’re probably going to touch about 800 Grand County lives in just 48 hours,” said Jennifer Brown, who took over for Gahan this year. “So one or two people can’t do this. It takes a Grand Lake village to get this done.”
The event began seven years ago as an extension of the annual Joyful Givers and Grand Angels Christmas project, which collects food, clothing, and toys for less fortunate families in the area. Gahan decided to create a similar program for kids, to allow them to give their parents presents for the first time and teach them the importance of giving.
“It’s my favorite part of Christmas because these kids walk in and their eyes go wide, and they’ve never given their parents a present,” said an emotional Gahan. “We’ve heard from parents that on Christmas morning the kids are more excited for the parents to open their gifts than they are to open their own. That shows that this is working.”
Grand Lake’s Secret Santa Shop is supported by Grand Angels, the Rotary of Grand Lake, the town of Grand Lake and the Grand Lake Fire Protection District. The fire department also spent the weekend outside the Community House offering rides in their fire engines.
Volunteers collect donations year-round, and are always on the search for new and gently used items that can be gifted to mom, dad and pets. To make donations contact Jennifer Brown at 720-620-2508.
“We’re already gearing up for 2018,” said Brown. “We’re looking forward to having as many Grand County kids make it next year as possible.”
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