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Secret Santa needs community’s votes to get Pepsi grant

 

It could mean helping 100 more children. That’s what would happen if the county’s Secret Santa program gets a $5,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant.

To get that money the program that helps needy children at Christmastime is asking for help from the community.

“We essentially got through the initial round of the proposal and now we need people to go vote for it,” Casey Baker, coordinator of the Secret Santa program, said.

Votes can be cast at www.refresheverything.com/lcypsecretsanta. Deadline for voting is Nov. 30.

“We are going to hit it hard this month,” Baker said.

Already the program, a project of the county’s Young Professionals organization of the Chamber of Commerce, has the names of 450 needy children.

Those names have come from the local school districts, which verify the need of each child and eliminate any duplication of family.

“Previously we opened our arms to someone who said they had a need,” Baker said. “We had no verification process. Now a third party helps us focus.”

Now the program is reaching out to other organizations in order to meet its goal of helping 600 children this Christmas. Those groups include the Open Door School, a local program helping teenage mothers with toddlers and a couple of health organizations in the area.

Secret Santa also wants to increase its sponsorships, where individuals or groups take one or more names of children and do the shopping themselves.

“Right now I have about 140 sponsorships,” Baker said. “I would like to get to 300. We have $11,000 in the bank. If we would get to $25,000, it would put us in a real good position this year and next.”