Lighthouse Mission gearing up for Christmas celebration

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed Carolyn Rubio-Lopez, a part-time Lighthouse Mission staff member, organizes dolls and other toys for the children’s Christmas celebration at the Lighthouse Mission 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Benna Sayyed

Lighthouse Mission staff and volunteers are busy preparing Christmas gift packages to give to less fortunate children in Clovis on Saturday.

Lighthouse Mission Executive Director Richard Gomez said any child is welcome to attend the Christmas celebration starting at 10 a.m. and lasting until 2 p.m., but the event is geared toward underprivileged youth ages 4 to 14.

“I remember when we were a very small organization we began giving gifts to the less fortunate and it just seems like it’s grown every year since,” Gomez said.

“I can’t remember exactly when it started but it’s been a lot of years.”

The event will feature a petting zoo with rabbits, puppies, calves, chickens and turkeys that children can play with while sipping hot chocolate. Also, a live band will serenade children and their families with Christmas carols.

Gomez said 80 children at a time will be able to pass through the Mission kitchen to pick up a ticket to collect a special present.

Teenage boys can expect to receive basketballs, footballs, soccer balls and packages including cosmetics like Axe body spray and Old Spice products.

Teenage girls can look forward to receiving cosmetic baskets filled with makeup, hair care products and the like.

Young girls will receive dolls and stuffed animals and young boys will receive toy cars and trucks.

All children will receive a bag of holiday goodies stuffed with candy, cookies, apples, oranges and peanuts.

Gomez said a variety of organizations and private groups and individuals donated the items to be presents.

“We have a whole bunch of donations right now. We do not count them. We just know we got a whole bunch,” Gomez said.

McDonalds is donating 300 sausage biscuits for breakfast starting at 10 a.m., and a Farwell lawyer is donating 100 pizzas for lunch starting at noon.

Gomez anticipates more than 900 children will be served Saturday. He said last year more than 900 children were served with goodies and gifts.

“Last year it went real well. Nobody got hurt. No animals escaped. Everybody got a gift; everybody got goodies. We had plenty,” Gomez said.

Debbie Montoya, Lighthouse Mission Homeless Shelter House manager, was living with her grandchildren at the shelter before assuming her current position in February 2011. She hopes for smooth sailing at the event Saturday.

“The kids are going to be fine. My dream would be for everything to run smoothly and every child leave out of here with a smile on their face. It feels good; it makes me feel good,” said Montoya, who will volunteer at the event the second time this year.

“Last year we saw children outside who didn’t have a jacket on and it was cold. We fitted all the kids with coats. We … (gave) away 60 coats that day,” Montoya said.