Club Live acts as Santa’s helpers
Christmas came early to the Gonzales family.
Envelopes stuffed with gift certificates and boxes overflowing with presents were delivered Friday to Teresa Gonzales, a single mother who works as a housekeeper in the Tahoe Keys. Within minutes, Teresa’s five children, ages 5 through 9, revealed a mountain of socks, hats, gloves and toys that were hidden under the wrapping paper.
Though the gifts came unannounced, it wasn’t the work of Santa.
Instead, they came from the heart and hard work of South Tahoe Middle School students.
Some 125 middle school students belong to Club Live, a statewide program that promotes a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle for youth.
Program Director Larry Lambdin said the club works by getting students involved in their communities.
“For the last five years, we’ve adopted a family during Christmas and it’s usually been a single mom with elementary school kids,” he said. “The kids raise money at school to buy them presents for Christmas – something they really need, like clothing or food coupons.”
This year the students raised $646 in a raffle and candy cane sale, held during school lunch hour. They split the money in half, buying presents for the Gonzales family and items for 34 care packages to go to the Alliance for the Mentally Ill. The students spent after-school hours last week shopping and wrapping the presents.
Club Live member Kylie Novasel said giving to the Alliance is especially heartwarming.
“We’re able to help 34 people and I think it’s a charity that doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other ones,” she said. “People always want to help the children because they are so cute but adults need help too.”
President of the South Lake Tahoe chapter of the Alliance for the Mentally agreed.
“They appreciate the fact that the community cares,” Diana Hankins said. “A lot of these people are all alone and don’t have family members to help them out.”
In addition to taking advantage of the Christmas giving season, Lambdin said Club Live members extend the spirit all through the school year by performing community service projects.
Student Sarah Putman said the benefits of giving work both ways.
“When we give something, we receive their happiness,” said Putman, an eighth-grader. “The best part is getting to see the kid’s face when they get the present.”
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