Each year since they can remember, Troy and Cheyenne Valvo have passed out candy canes during Homestead Holiday, a traditional Christmas display put on by their Saugus neighborhood.
The neighborhood, which is usually a stop on Santa Clarita Transit’s Holiday Lights Tour, sees thousands of visitors each year.
For the past five years, the now-11-year-olds, who began passing out the candy canes with a neighbor for fun, have taken it upon themselves to collect monetary donations while doing so in the hopes of collecting enough to purchase toys to donate to the local fire station, which then gives them to local families in need.
“It seems that the holiday season brings out the best in our city, and although the candy canes are a free gesture from us to the visitors on our street, some people return the kind gesture and donate money toward the candy canes,” said Mike Valvo, the twins’ dad. “Troy and Cheyenne have decided that all kids should be able to open a gift on Christmas morning.”
Rain or shine, visitors to Homestead Holiday can see the twins passing out candy canes and collecting donations almost every single night — even on weeknights before bedtime — with thousands of candy canes being handed out each year.
“We’ve raised $1,000 some-odd this year so far,” Cheyenne said.
Each year, the twins hope to make their efforts bigger and better, dressing up and decorating their donation table with lights, with Cheyenne even dressing up as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer this year.
While the twins usually look forward to shopping for the toys after all the donations are collected, they’ll do so online this year due to the pandemic.
“We do toys for all ages, little kids to teenagers,” Cheyenne said.
“Last year, we were even able to get enough money to buy video games (for the older kids),” Troy said, adding they don’t want any kid to feel left out.
Even so, they hope to collect more than last year’s approximately $2,000, as more families are in need than ever for that same reason.
“Everybody’s under a big stress because of COVID,” Troy said.
“And some people might not even be able to get any gifts,” Cheyenne added.
For the twins, the tradition has become near and dear to them, and they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“We mainly like seeing the joy in kids’ faces,” Troy said.
Cheyenne agreed, adding, “I just like seeing everyone happy getting candy canes, and then just the feeling of donating all those gifts and imagining those kids’ faces just makes me very happy.”