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Community Children’s Christmas Party Better Every Year

Thank you volunteers in heber, az.
It was a good year for volunteers at the Community Children's Christmas party at the Salvation Army Camp Ponderosa.

The 39th annual Community Children’s Christmas party was held on a chilly Saturday in December in the magnificent hall at Salvation Army’s Camp Ponderosa located on the 504 Road just off Highway 260. The volunteers, along with their children, were bustling about making sure all the items were arranged just right for the children’s arrival. The Christmas tree was trimmed and glowing while the nearby stone fireplace that goes all the way up to the ceiling was ablaze with a large, crackling fire. In the midst of this organized chaos, someone announced that Santa Clause was in the building, who, along with his main elf, made their way up to Santa’s big cushy red chair that was situated beside the Christmas tree.

Santa and Elf wait for the children.
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Terry Rutherford with granddaughter Tasmin (3)

The volunteers were rounded up for their group photo. Some of them dressed up as elves or in Christmas attire, but all of them were a beautiful site with happy faces all around. After the photo shoot, they took their places at the designated tables to help hand out treats and gifts. The children who were there with volunteering parents, were able to go around and collect their bootie in bags that were included as part of the party. It’s the same process all of the children went through once the party started. After they go through the considerable choices of small toys, books, candy, mittens, fruit, etc., the children exit through the back room where they also are given a wrapped gift. This room also has a roaring fireplace that warms up the guests just before stepping back out into the cold. Santa was seated and ready for those who were on the Naughty & Nice List.

Camp Ponderosa heber, az
Salvation Army Cpt. Harryette O’Brien with spouse Cpt Sean O’Brien and their children Colin (7) and Addison (5)

On site for the party representing the Salvation Army were Sean O’Brien, his wife Harryette O’Brien and their children Colin, 7 and Addison, 5. The couple are both Captains for the Salvation Army in the Youth Development Division which is headquartered in Phoenix; they run Camp Ponderosa in the summer and also are responsible for programs for the Southwest Division which includes New Mexico, Arizona, and southern Nevada.

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Friends Breea and Kamryn helping hand out gifts

All in all, it’s a lot of fun and makes one wish they were a child again to partake of these magical moments. Pam Harris, headed up the event as she has done for over 15 years.  She works all year gathering up all of the gifts that are given away. A video and shout-out to her husband Todd was done so he would know he’s missed as he was not able to attend this year.

“We had many more volunteers this year,” Harris told me. “Normally I take several days off work to wrap all of the gifts and get things organized. However, we were done in four hours! It was really awesome!” She didn’t know exactly where all of them came from but she did know some were Chamber members, a basketball team and a church’s young women’s group were among some of this year’s extra hands.


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Camp Operations Director Neil LeBarge who had just added another log to the fire with volunteers Angela Reidhead and her two sons, Brycen and Colten.

Many thanks to the following list of donors who made this year’s party possible: The Legion Riders, Mogollon High’s Culinary Arts Students, Faith Lutheran Church, Debbie Greenwalt, Sysco, Eagles Auxiliary Aerie, American Legion Post 86, Megon McGlamry, Worldmark @ Bison Ranch, Pam and Todd Harris, Kim Gauman, Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers, Acorn Construction, Salvation Army, NAPA Auto, Mogollon Family Dentistry, Quality Fuels, Guy and Mary Markelstrom, Ponderosa Lions Club, Mary Ballard, Scholastic Books, Terry and Maggie Rutherford, Chatters Construction, Chris and Pam Cross, PAS Auto, Rodney and Julie Mattelo, and Robert Melendez. Thanks to Chris Cross and his brother Ron for their work as Santa and his elf. All of the volunteers were truly appreciated.


Just ask the kids.