The idea of hanging stockings “by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there” sometimes fades with age.
However, the Saint Nicholas Christmas Foundation wants to rekindle those hopes for residents of assisted living and nursing care facilities in the Grand Valley.
The foundation started in 2014 as a personal effort by Nicholas Newell in Wilmington, North Carolina, and became a nonprofit in 2018, said Desiree Padilla, who is the regional director for the foundation in Grand Junction.
Padilla met Newell while she was managing a Kay Jewelers store in New Mexico. Newell was her employee and the two became good friends, staying in contact after he moved to North Carolina and went into real estate and she eventually moved to Grand Junction and became a Realtor with EXP Realty.
“He’s a sweetheart. He’s always been a good egg,” Padilla said of Newell, who also happens to share his birthday with Christmas.
After Newell started the foundation, buying gifts to fulfill the Christmas wish lists of older residents who no longer had living family members, Padilla told him if he ever wanted to expand, she was willing to help.
Thanks to donations and national attention after being highlighted in 2020 on NBC’s “Today with Hoda & Jenna,” that expansion is happening.
Padilla, who joined the cause in honor of her grandfather who raised her, has been contacting local care facilities to get wish lists for residents.
“Their initial reaction was standoffish. What was I selling?” Padilla said.
When they realized this was for real, “I had one lady almost start crying,” she said.
“People just forget them here,” the woman told Padilla.
Padilla has 15 area facilities participating so far and wish lists are arriving.
The residents Padilla and the foundation are specifically looking for are those who are low-income or have no income or who no longer have family who visits for any reason.
As wish lists come in, they will be posted beginning today at saintnicholaschristmasfoundation.com/colorado.
Similar to Angel Tree, people can select a specific Christmas wish list to fulfill from among those posted for the Grand Junction area.
After purchasing and wrapping those gifts, donors can drop them off at designated locations, where they will be collected and delivered to residents for Christmas.
Among the items Padilla has seen so far on lists are things such as socks and sweats, coloring books and yarn.
“The women love the yarn!” she said.
“My hope is we will have enough community support to wipe out our lists,” Padilla said.
However, she also is planning a fundraising Saint Nicholas Christmas Foundation Party to cover costs related to fulfilling lists that may not get chosen, wrapping paper and other needs.
That party will be from 1–4 p.m. on Dec. 11 at Ascension Fitness Studio, 2482 Patterson Road, Suite 100, and Santa Claus will be stopping by for photos at 2 p.m.
There will be Christmas ornaments to decorate, free popcorn and cotton candy.
Proceeds from purchases made at the White Bison Grill and BBQ food truck also will be donated to the foundation.