Isaiah Willmot, 4, right, opens as present as his brother Elighio Rodriguez, 7, watches during an early Christmas party for five children from the Lighthouse Mission Thursday at a home in Clovis. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer
Mikayle Moore hugged her new dolls, however, the boxes the presents came in were a stimulating distraction for the pig-tailed toddler.
At 17 months old, Mikayle was one of five children from the Lighthouse Mission who were treated to an early Christmas by the Yucca seventh-grade girls basketball team.
After sitting around Sandra Flatow’s kitchen table on Remuda Drive and munching on cookies, chips and pizza, the children opened presents, which brought smiles to the faces of the 17 members of the Yucca basketball team.
It was the players’ idea to donate presents to the children, according to Yucca coach Ann Sharp.
“The girls have hearts of gold,” Sharp said. “They wanted to give to others, once they started they couldn’t stop.”
Flatow’s daughter and Lady Chap Hanna Flatow likes to give more than receive.
“It makes me feel better giving presents than getting presents on Christmas,” Hanna said.
The gifts the Lady Chaps purchased included a bicycle, dolls, clothes, remote control cars and planes, stuffed animals and books.
Coach Sharp said the players spent a practice wrapping presents in their locker room.
“I hope we do this again next year,” she said.
Each child was also sent back to the Lighthouse Mission with two unopened presents — saved for Christmas day.
Lighthouse Mission Administrative Assistant Geri Gomez told the Lady Chaps their generosity has a large impact on lives of kids with few material possessions.
“Many children don’t have much more than the clothes on their back. This means a lot,” she said.
Thursday’s party was more than an early Christmas for Ke’andra Payton, 7, it was her birthday, too.
Ke’andra ran outside in Flatow’s back yard with a new stuffed monkey clinging around her neck. Her imagination was brimming.
“My monkey is named Kandra, she’s 9,” Ke’andra said.
Ke’andra said she had a great time with the Lady Chaps at Flatow’s home.
“This is the best Christmas,” she said.