This is certainly a different type of holiday season and while nothing feels quite the same, Carousel Ranch was able to keep things safe for the holidays while still bringing the joy of their annual “Santa Day” festivities into the hearts and homes of every student.
With the help of Pardee Homes, returning as the event’s sponsor for the 14th year straight, Santa Day at Home brought each student a “Santa Day box” literally packed full of fun. The box was meant to replicate the many things that the students usually experience at the annual party held at the ranch. Each box included a letter from Santa, stationery and an envelope addressed to Santa at the North Pole, a Christmas card from their Carousel Ranch instructor, reindeer food, homemade cookies, a s’mores kit, craft kits, temporary holiday tattoos, a plush toy and even a very special Carousel Ranch coloring book with crayons made especially for this occasion.
Catie Larkins, Pardee Homes project coordinator (and a former Carousel Ranch mom), helped to coordinate the festivities including coordinating four Pardee staff members to put together 130-plus boxes for the students.
“It was such a wonderful thing to be able to do for the children,” Larkins said. “To be able to make the best of these circumstances and bring our colleagues together to do something good – we were just so happy to do it. In fact, sharing this experience with my own sister and my own children was so special, coming together to do something good for others.”
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, which also supports the event each year, brought an entire van full of toys to the ranch – enabling instructors to pick the perfect gift to wrap and deliver to every student (both equestrian and Ready to Work) along with their box.
Express Employment Professionals – Santa Clarita office (whose owner Yvonne Rockwell is on the Carousel Ranch board) gathered their team to make homemade cookies to add as well as purchasing boxes of blankets as gifts for the older students.
In the words of a parent, “Thank you all so very much for a very special Santa Day! Sophia was so excited to open everything. She loved the sweet note from Ms. Katie and all the fun things in the box. And she was very surprised to get a note from Santa and Mrs. Claus! Thank you for her dinosaur toy and dinosaur puzzle. As you know, she loves dinosaurs and she couldn’t believe you all knew that! Even though we all couldn’t be together in person Sophia definitely felt like it was Santa Day! Thank you all again for your kindness, dedication and love you continue to give Sophia and all the kids at the ranch. We are so blessed.”
A few Carousel families were able to come to the ranch to pick up their goodies in a “drive by” fashion, while the majority were personally delivered by Carousel Ranch staff throughout the week.
“In a time year where kindness is more important than ever, we are so grateful to partners like Pardee Homes, the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station and Express Employment Professionals for really coming through for our kids. Together we were able to make sure that their holidays were bright, even during these most challenging times,” said Denise Redmond, Carousel Ranch executive director.
Carousel Ranch is dedicated to improving the lives of children and young adults with special needs. Through equestrian therapy and vocational training programs, the ranch strives to create an atmosphere where every student can and will succeed, a place where therapy is disguised as fun.