Christmas gifts were presented to the children of 42 underprivileged families last week by Santa Claus at the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children – thanks to the generosity of EXIT Realty offices in the Valley.
Among those receiving gifts were the children of Maria Valdivia, who has received services from the Partnership, which has offices on the corner of Herndon and Grandview avenues.
For the past six years EXIT Realty Consultants has partnered with the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Families to provide Christmas gifts for local children. Each year the number of kids in need has increased – from 40 the first year of giving to 110 this year. EXIT has a Giving Tree in each of its seven offices and asked families, agents, friends and clients to draw a name and sponsor a child for gift buying. As in the past, this year all of the kids found sponsors.
The gifts were given away by Santa on Wednesday, Dec. 18 at the Partnership office.
“One little boy come up to me and says, ‘I want an iPod for Christmas,’” said Charlie Gross, who played Santa. “And I said, ‘I hope I don’t run out by the time I come to your place.’
“And one little boy – he was cute – he said, ‘I know you’re not the real Santa. You’re helping him, huh?’”
“We had 42 families and every family has about four to five kids,” said Martha Celaya, a family resource specialist with the Ceres Partnership. “We made sure everybody got a gift. They got an outfit, a toy and something else they wanted. There’s a lot of need out there so this is a very, very good program for the families. And the kids get really excited because you see their faces all happy.”
The Ceres Partnership served approximately 1,436 individuals in 474 families during the 2018-19 year. Celaya said locals find the programs through word of mouth, mostly through the school system. Programs are offered to strengthen families – mostly of the lower socioeconomic strata – through such programs as the Toddlers in Motion group, a School Readiness group, a Healthy Birth Outcome group and other support groups. Another popular every-other-month group is solely for dads to become more engaged with their children. The Promotora program is designed to reduce stigmas about mental health.
“I thought this was great,” said volunteer Vanessa Preciado. She lived in Ceres her whole life and never knew about the Ceres Partnership. “I think it’s great that they have programs so close to home.”
Program Manager Kaylee Brown said that mostly Hispanics utilize services of the Partnership but she wants to diversify the clientele. There are plenty of staff members who can offer programs in English – if there become a demand.