By Sabela Bello
Caracas, Dec 17 (EFE).- In Venezuela, Santa Claus travels by motorcycle to deliver gifts and Christmas cheer to at-risk children thanks to an initiative launched in 2017 by journalists who wanted to bring smiles to kids’ faces amid a socio-economic crisis in the Andean nation.
Dayimar Ayala, a reporter with the online publication El Pitazo, told Efe that she and her colleagues were seeking a way to help people through a difficult time.
“And so it occurred to us to collect toys and brings them to children in situations of risk,” she said. “Why did we decide to help and favor kids? Because they are the people who bear the most difficult part during the crisis, but they are also the most appreciative people.”
“We want to keep children’s hope alive,” Ayala said of herself and her co-founders: El Pitazo’s Wanda Lopez and Agencia Efe journalists Rayner Peña and Genesis Carrero.
Given limited resources, the group has to focus on particular areas. This year, they are distributing gifts among youngsters in Caricuao, a municipality in the capital, and La Guaira state, just north of Caracas.
“There are no words to describe all of this because you are replacing many tears with smiles and there are no words for that. There are many children who aren’t going to get anything this year,” 62-year-old Esther Yanes said after watching kids receive their gifts.
Teacher Luz Melly Garcia, 51, was also moved.
“It’s a gratifying activity for the children to receive their gifts, and even more so in this time of pandemic, when they are at home,” she told Efe.
The motorcycle-mounted Santa who delivers the gifts says that the affection from the youngsters is what gives him the energy to remain part of the project at the age of 66.
“It’s a very great satisfaction to see them with that joy they feel on seeing this character,” he tells Efe. “I work now for all the world’s children and may God bless them. Peace and prosperity is what we ask for the world.”
Volunteer Carolina Carballo, 34, says that nothing makes a bigger emotional impact on her than seeing children happy.
“To see these children completely happy to see Santa and receive these gifts that all of you make possible, is the greatest emotion I can feel. December is better the last four years because of this initiative,” she says. EFE sb-js-gcs/dr