The tradition of Santa Claus and the spirit of giving will continue this holiday season, but with adjustments for pandemic precautions.
On Dec. 5, the Stuff the Bus gift donation event for families will take place at the Cortez Walmart from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pick up an angel with a specific item a child wants, purchase it and put it on the bus. The Piñon Project will wrap it and label the gift and get it to the family in time for Christmas.
On Dec. 12, Santa Claus and his elves will be at the Cortez Cultural Plaza, 25 N. Market St., from noon to 2 p.m.
Toys and candy will be handed out to children, and they will be able to meet Santa, who will arrive on a firetruck, said American Legion Cmdr. Scott Magness.
Masks are required, and families must remain 6 feet apart while waiting in line. Children will use a hand sanitizer station before meeting Santa. Restrooms will not be available.
“This is an outdoor event, dress warmly, wear a mask, and be courteous to each other,” Magness said. “There will be plenty of room to social distance.”
He said typically 200 toys and 200 bags of candy are handed out each year.
Christmas for Kids, organized by the Piñon Project, provides gifts for kids and families who need assistance. Families struggling financially apply and are matched up with community members, agencies and organizations who wish to “adopt” a family for the holidays by purchasing gifts for Christmas.
Every year, about 140 sponsors provide gifts to more than 500 local children, said Piñon Project Director Kelli Unrein.
There are not enough sponsors for every child, so the “North Pole” portion of Christmas for Kids provides gifts for an additional 280 young people.
North Pole depends on gift donations to the public. Donations are needed for kids of all ages and range from toys, board games and crafts to hiking gear, jackets, snow gloves and boots.
The Christmas Angel Tree and Stuff the Bus are additional opportunities to buy a gift for a child.
People throughout Montezuma County can stop by The Journal, at 8 W. Main St., and select a handmade angel from the Christmas tree, each with a child’s name and wish list on the back.
These generous individuals purchase and wrap gifts for the child and drop them off at the Piñon Project’s North Pole Drop-off Center, 210 E. Main St., before Dec. 14.
The first annual Festival of Wreaths is kicking off in Cortez with Community Connections and 20 business sponsors and more than a dozen business donors.
Twenty-one lighted wreaths sponsored and decorated by local businesses have been placed in storefront windows along Main Street. Wreaths include gifts and decorations. The wreaths will be auctioned online from Dec. 4-6. Go to communityconnectionsco.org to participate.
Community Connections board member Cynthia Sadler suggested expanding the Festival of Trees to Cortez as the Festival of Wreaths. The goal is to light up spirits and Main Street while bringing awareness to Community Connections’ work supporting those with disabilities.
“People with developmental disabilities have a purity of heart and spirit that is endearing and powerful. Their open hearts and non-judgmental ways are especially a lesson for our divided world right now,” Sadler said.
Proceeds from the Festival of Trees and Wreaths will benefit more than 300 children and adults with intellectual, developmental and other disabilities across Montezuma, Dolores, San Juan, La Plata and Archuleta counties.
“The fundraiser enhance our ability to support our clients by providing transportation and programs, and to help fill funding gaps in these challenging times,” Sadler said.
For more information, contact Cynthia Sadler at (970) 739-4977.