WHITTIER – Santa came to town a little early for more than 400 children, and he was bearing gifts they had requested in letters written to the jolly old elf.The “Letters to Santa” program both promotes literacy and letter-writing skills and gives gifts to kids on Christmas.“What’s really sad is they are asking for blankets, food and sometimes they don’t even ask for toys,” said Martha Carreon, program coordinator and a 20-year veteran volunteer with the nonprofit Eastern Group Foundation, a Los Angeles-based group which grants yuletide wishes.This year one child made a difficult request. He wanted “to keep his family together.” Carreon didn’t know of any store that sold that type of present, but she did what she could to make sure the child at least got a gift from Santa.The group is helped significantly by Rio Hondo College students, who pore over the letters to St. Nick, catalog requests and make a list – before checking it twice.Then they start shopping based on the children’s requests.At the giveaway event Saturday, Santa gave each child who wrote a letter the gift they requested – or at least as close as possible.As in many years past, Santa was played by Perry Sites, professor of theater arts at Rio Hondo. “He really does look and sound just like Santa. The kids love him,” Carreon said.This year’s event was at Preferred Plush, another long-term donor, and co-sponsored by W Radio 690.“It’s not only the toys, it’s the attention the children and families enjoy too,” said Jonathan Sanchez, president of the Eastern Group [email protected](562) 698-0955, Ext. 3015160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
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