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Santa Claus, Inc. Projected to Help Over 20,000 Children this Christmas

By Margie Miller
Publisher/Journalist
2013-12-11 at 15:37:43
As the years have been continually moving forward, so has the need to help the many less-fortunate children at Christmas time. Over the last 61 years, Santa Claus, Inc., whose founder was Mignon Meyer Schweitzer, has allowed parents to select gifts for their children rather than offering wrapped toys. Schweitzer felt it was important that the dignity of the under-privileged families be maintained and this tradition has been followed from 1952 until today. The first year the organization was in operation, over 1,500 families were served and the estimate for this year of children to be helped is over 20,000. To support the increased need for new items for the families and children, Santa Claus, Inc. holds an annual fundraiser extravaganza called “Christmas Tree Lane,” which kicks off the season and includes a two-part event featuring designer Christmas trees, silent auction items and live auction goods. Monies received from this event are all designated to the needy children. The backbone of this organization is the volunteers; since the very beginning of the program, thousands of volunteers have given their time and tireless support to this cause, which they felt was so vital for each of the communities of San Bernardino, Colton, Redlands and Rialto, among other Inland Empire cities. Executive Director Karen DiCarlo said, “There is no way this event and continued support of the children and families could take place without the ongoing support of the volunteers. Over 2,600 volunteers are involved each year with Santa Claus, Inc., and in 2012, they gave over 55,000 hours of time so that the children could experience the joy of Christmas.” This year’s Christmas Tree Lane event was held on Dec. 6 and 7, and it featured 16 beautiful designer Christmas trees, Benji Schwimmer Dance Troupe performances, silent auction items and live auction and the auction of trees on both days. Two recognition awards were presented on Friday evening, The Mignon Schweitzer Memorial Award and the Dick Bryant Memorial Award. The awards went to two outstanding people within the local communities that have provided continuing support of Santa Claus, Inc. and other service organizations that have benefited children throughout the Inland Empire. The first award — the Mignon Schweitzer Memorial Award — was presented by Laura Morales, Christmas Tree Lane chairwoman, to Tony Myrell, who is the president/CEO and owner of Premier Medical Transportation and Equipment, located in Colton. Myrell was raised in the Inland Empire and he made it his home for 43 years before moving to Dana Point 13 years ago, but he continues to commute to Colton everyday for work. On a video presented to the visitors to this year’s Christmas Tree Lane event, Myrell expressed how his family received support from Santa Claus, Inc. when he was very young and his family didn’t have the means to purchase gifts at Christmas time. “I remember receiving a basketball at Christmas and I cherished the gift even though I didn’t have a hoop to shoot it through," he said. "I improvised by throwing it against the wall." With the memory of the unselfish support given by Santa Claus, Inc. in the past and an overwhelming desire and commitment to give back to the community in which he was raised, Myrell is the proud supporter of many charitable organizations, associations, schools, nonprofits and, of course, Santa Claus, Inc. Myrell said, “With the spirit of giving during the holidays, I have always made sure that I have had the time and resources to be able to help and participate in this great organization, Santa Claus, Inc. It is the gem in our community that had magical elves making sure my siblings and I never went without during the celebrations on Christmas morning. This allowed me to dream of my future and if you have a dream, pursue it. You never know where it might lead you.” The next award given out that evening — the Dick Bryant Memorial Award — was presented by the executive director, Karen DiCarlo, to Heather Lozano, a special education teacher since 2000 for students with moderate to severe disabilities at Cajon High School in the San Bernardino Unified School District. DiCarlo said, “Heather has always provided unwavering support of Santa Claus, Inc. educational programs.” Lozano received her Bachelor's of Arts degree in liberal studies with a minor in psychology, and her Masters in special education from Cal State University San Bernardino. Lozano brought the internationally acclaimed program, Best Buddies Club, to Cajon in 2001, and still serves as the faculty advisor. Students in general education are paired with students with disabilities to create one-on-one friendships through this club. She has coordinated the Best Buddies Prom for the past few years and this wonderful event usually hosts over 700 kids. Lozano said, “In addition to the great benefits to the students with disabilities, the students in the general education population also reap tremendous benefits, learning compassion, tolerance, empathy, and a heart of service." Lozano was chosen as one of the top eight most influential women in the Inland Empire by Inland Empire Magazine in 2009. “A heartfelt thanks goes out to all of the participants, volunteers, and donors who made this year’s Christmas Tree Lane so wonderful,” said DiCarlo. ORIGINAL ARTICLE: As the years have been continually moving forward, so has the need to help more and more less-fortunate children at Christmas time grown at the same pace? Over the last 61 years, Santa Claus, Inc., whose founder was Mignon Meyer Schweitzer, has allowed parents to select gifts for their children rather than being hand wrapped toys. Schweitzer felt it was important that the dignity of the under-privileged families be maintained and this tradition has been followed from 1952 until today. The first year over 1,500 families were served and the estimate for this year of children to be helped is over 20,000. To support the increase need for new items for the families and children, Santa Claus, Inc. holds an annual fundraiser extravaganza called “Christmas Tree Lane” which kicks off the season that includes a two-part event featuring designer Christmas trees, silent auction items, and live auction goods. Monies received from this event are all designated to the needy children. The backbone of this organization is the volunteers, since the very beginning of the program thousands of volunteers have given their time and tireless support to this cause which they felt was so vital for each of the communities (San Bernardino, Colton, Redlands and Rialto and other Inland Empire Cities) they serve. Executive Director Karen DiCarlo said, “There is no way this event and continued support of the children and families could take place without the ongoing support of the volunteers, over 2,600 volunteers are involved each year with Santa Claus, Inc., and in 2012, they gave over 55,000 hours of time so that the children could experience the joy of Christmas.” This year’s Christmas Lane event was held on December 6th and 7th, and it featured 16 beautiful designer Christmas trees, Benji Schwimmer Dance Troupe performances, silent auction items, and live auction and auction of trees on both days. Two recognition awards were presented on Friday evening, The Mignon Schweitzer Memorial Award, and the Dick Bryant Memorial Award, to two outstanding people within the local communities that have provided continuing support of Santa Claus, Inc. and other service organizations that have benefited children throughout the Inland Empire. The first award (Mignon Schweitzer Memorial Award) was presented by Laura Morales, Christmas Tree Lane Chairwoman to Tony Myrell, who is the President/CEO and Owner of Premier Medical Transportation and Equipment located in Colton, California. Tony was raised in the Inland Empire and he made it his home for forty-three years before moving to Dana Point thirteen years ago, but he continues to commute to Colton everyday for work. On a video presented to the visitors to this year’s Christmas Tree Lane event, Tony expressed how his family received support from Santa Claus, Inc. when he was very young and his family didn’t have the means to purchase gifts at Christmas time. “I remember receiving a basketball at Xmas and I cherished the gift, even though I didn’t have a hoop to shoot it through; I improvised by throwing it against the wall, he said.” With the memory of the unselfish support given by Santa Claus, Inc. in the past and a overwhelming desire and commitment to give back to the community in which he was raised, Tony is the proud supporter of many charitable organizations, associations, schools, nonprofits and, of course, Santa Claus, Inc. In the Christmas Tree Lane 2013 program, Tony says, “With the spirit of giving during the holidays, I have always made sure that I have had the time and resources to be able to help and participate in this great organization, Santa Claus, Inc. It is the gem in our community that had magical Elf’s making sure my siblings and I never went without during the celebrations on Christmas morning! This allowed me to dream of my future and if you have a dream, pursue it….you never know where it might lead you.” The next award given out that evening (Dick Bryant Memorial Award) was presented by the Executive Director, Karen DiCarlo to Heather Lozano, a special education teacher for students with moderate to severe disabilities at Cajon High School in the San Bernardino Unified School District since 2000. Karen says, “Heather has always provided unwavering support of Santa Claus, Inc. educational programs.” She received her BA in Liberal Studies with a minor in Psychology and her Masters in Special Education from Cal State University San Bernardino. Heather brought the internationally acclaimed program, Best Buddies Club, to Cajon in 2001, and still serves as the Faculty Advisor. Students in general education are paired with students with disabilities to create one-on-one friendships through this club. She has coordinated the Best Buddies Prom for the past few years and this wonderful event usually hosts over 700 kids. Heather says, “That in addition to the great benefits to the students with disabilities, the students in the general education population also reap tremendous benefits –learning compassion, tolerance, empathy, and a heart of service. Heather was chosen as one of the top eight most influential women in the Inland Empire by Inland Empire Magazine in 2009. These two people, along with so many others within the organization, should be congratulated on their fine work and support of Santa Claus, Inc. “A heartfelt thanks goes out to all of the participants, volunteers, and donors who made this year’s Christmas Tree Lane so wonderful,” says Karen.

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