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Santa Comes Early to Area Schools

Pre-K through third grade students at Mount Eagle, Mount Vernon Woods and Riverside Elementary in Alexandria, as well as three schools in Falls Church and Alexandria, received an early Christmas present last Friday.

Sponsored by Volunteer Fairfax, "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" selected six Fairfax County elementary schools for this newly launched project. Cindy Jenkins, development director for Volunteer Fairfax, said that the schools were chosen on the basis of percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch; the chosen schools have at least 50 percent eligibility, and most are more than 70 percent.

Approximately 2,000 boys and girls received colorful backpacks filled with toys and books on their desks. Teachers and volunteer ambassadors were on hand to join in the fun and share the spirit of giving and sharing and Volunteer Fairfax coordinated teams of community volunteers to act as St. Nicholas Ambassadors and greet the students, assist with activities and share the spirit of giving and caring.

WHILE THE PROGRAM has been implemented in other areas throughout the country, this was the first time that Fairfax has sponsored it. Jenkins credits the programs success to its corporate sponsors and the incredible volunteers.

"We have had a truly successful first year, and look forward to reaching even more children next year," said Jenkins. "The community volunteers have been wonderful."

Jenkins also acknowledged the support of the local fire, police and sheriff departments, who helped transport and distribute the gifts.

Fairfax County Police Captain Larry Moser, commander of the Mount Vernon District Station, was also supportive of the program.

"A Visit From Saint Nicholas" offers the entire community an opportunity to express support and caring for children who might otherwise find the holidays a less than joyous time of year. Volunteer Fairfax needs community support to establish this event as an annual tradition that local schools, businesses and volunteers will look forward to every year and they invite everybody to become a part of the tradition and adopt a school or classroom; buy a backpack for a child in need; or sponsor a backpack in honor of a colleague, friend or loved one.

For more information, visit www.volunteerfairfax.org.