Santa’s Posse brings Christmas cheer to area families

Partnership between Clark County Sheriff’s Office and volunteers help families in need during the holidays

VANCOUVER — This Christmas season, not all gifts are being delivered by a man in a red suit with elves for helpers. For many families in Clark County, members of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and volunteers forming Santa’s Posse will deliver gifts and food for those in need.

Santa’s Posse is a volunteer group that began in 1997 as a partnership between the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and community sponsors.

According to Sergeant Kevin Allais, community outreach sergeant for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, 2017 is the “twentieth anniversary of assisting families in Clark County” for Santa’s Posse.

Prior the founding of the organization in 1997, Allais said that many in the sheriff’s office had been giving of their own time and money to support families in need in the community. In 1997, local Rotary clubs and other donors partnered with the sheriff’s office to form Santa’s Posse.

Twenty years later, Santa’s Posse annually helps 1000 Clark County families, reaching approximately 3400 children, Allais said.

Santa’s Posse is a partnership between the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and local sponsors that seeks to provide food and gifts for Clark County families in need. It relies completely on volunteers, and every year holds a wrapping party at the Clark County Events Center to prepare gifts for distribution. Photo courtesy of Santa’s Posse
Santa’s Posse is a partnership between the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and local sponsors that seeks to provide food and gifts for Clark County families in need. It relies completely on volunteers, and every year holds a wrapping party at the Clark County Events Center to prepare gifts for distribution. Photo courtesy of Santa’s Posse

Each family receiving a visit from Santa’s Posse is referred to the group by third parties, Allais said, and local school districts are a large help in identifying families in need of assistance.

Food boxes, gift cards for a turkey or ham from WinCo Foods, and Christmas gifts for children up to the age of 18 are all given to each of the families helped by Santa’s Posse, Allais said.

This year, Allais said that Santa’s Posse had created its own 501(c)(3) organization. It is funded by donations, fundraisers and corporate sponsors.

During the all volunteer wrapping party hosted by Santa’s Posse to prepare Christmas gifts, 500 volunteers at a time have sometimes come to help support local families. Photo courtesy of Santa’s Posse
During the all volunteer wrapping party hosted by Santa’s Posse to prepare Christmas gifts, 500 volunteers at a time have sometimes come to help support local families. Photo courtesy of Santa’s Posse

Among the corporate sponsors of Santa’s Posse are Gaynor’s Automotive, ilani and Providence. In addition, Allais said that this year, Santa’s Posse has received a “secret Santa” who will match any donation “dollar for dollar” up to $50,000.

Each family that will receive gifts from Santa’s Posse is notified beforehand. On Thu., Dec. 14, Santa’s Posse will hold a wrapping party at the Clark County Events Center to prepare all of the donations and gifts for the families.

Allais said that the wrapping party is extremely popular for volunteers, and around 500 volunteers have helped out at times.

Santa’s Posse volunteers will distribute the gifts on Sun., Dec. 17. Allais explained that normally, gifts are distributed the Sunday before Christmas, but this year the event was moved back by a week because of Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday.

For Santa’s Posse to serve 1000 Clark County families each year, “it takes a lot of volunteers,” Sergeant Kevin Allais of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said, “and we have a lot of volunteers.” Photo courtesy of Santa’s Posse
For Santa’s Posse to serve 1000 Clark County families each year, “it takes a lot of volunteers,” Sergeant Kevin Allais of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said, “and we have a lot of volunteers.” Photo courtesy of Santa’s Posse

“The families that are getting this,” Allais said, “are usually very gracious and welcoming and thankful for us helping them out.”

All monetary donations received go directly to help the families, and all the work is done by volunteers.

“It’s so rewarding,” Allais explained. “You’re hooked, you want to go out and help each year.”

Allais said that all donations to Santa’s Posse stay in Clark County, and are used solely to help out people in need in the county itself. This means that many sponsors are drawn to help “because we are keeping it local.”

A holiday bazaar will be held at the Clark County Public Service Building on Thu., Dec. 7 and is one small event that will help fund Santa’s Posse. Allais said that it is a “very small fundraiser,” but that proceeds received will benefit the organization’s efforts.

Monetary donations are accepted year round, according to the Santa’s Posse website.

For more information about Santa’s Posse or to donate or volunteer, visit the Santa’s Posse website at http://santasposse.com/.

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About The Author

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Alex Peru is a 2017 graduate of Washington State University Vancouver. He has a bachelor’s degree in History and a double minor in Political Science and Business Administration. Peru grew up in Battle Ground, and graduated from CAM Academy in 2013. He worked for The VanCougar, WSU Vancouver’s campus newspaper, for three years, including one year as the editor-in-chief. When not working, Peru enjoys reading books about history, working on cars and enjoying the outdoors in Clark County’s beautiful rivers, lakes and forests.

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