FAIRFIELD — Santa Claus came to Fairview Elementary School on Thursday and got an impressive reception.
“Santa! Santa! Santa!” the children in teacher Emily Haskell’s transitional kindergarten class chanted when Santa appeared at the classroom door.
Children rushed to hug him. Santa sat in a wooden chair that had a cloth draped on it, emblazoned with the words “VIP” and handed out gift bags.
Santa had lots of help. NorthBay Healthcare employees adopted the 69 classrooms at Fairview Elementary School in Fairfield and Padan Elementary School in Vacaville. They bought classroom items and gifts using their own money and came to the classrooms to put on parties.
The children in Haskell’s class responded with glee. They ate pizza and apple slices and looked at gift bags filled with composition books, erasers, markers.
Their favorite part of the day?
“Santa giving up presents,” Malachi Straiten said.
“Santa,” Anthony Sanchez said.
“The gifts,” Raya Harper said.
NorthBay Patient Access and Communications employees adopted this particular classroom and brought the gifts and food.
“This is the most exciting class, because they are so little,” employee Felicita Neideffer said. “We were excited to see them, just their happy faces.”
In another classroom, kindergarten teacher Laura Gay called over Dominic Casteneda. She presented him with a pair of new socks and new, red tennis shoes.
“I didn’t know I got shoes,” Dominic said, then demonstrated that he could lace them up himself. He smiled broadly.
NorthBay Healthcare gave new shoes to 22 children at Fairview Elementary School. The program had its origins last year, when NorthBay Healthcare employees asked Gay for her classroom wish list.
Gay had noticed that many her charges had ill-fitting shoes and hand-me-down shoes.
“The generosity of NorthBay took off from there,” Gay said.
NorthBay Healthcare employee Rose Kennedy spearheaded last year’s shoe drive. Then she got ill, couldn’t attend the classroom party where the shoes got handed out and died in February.
Instead of sending flowers, her husband Michael Shafer asked that people donate money so the shoe drive could continue. Shafer, an emergency room physician in San Francisco, came to Fairview this year to watch the shoes get handed out.
Fairview Principal David Marianno stood in Gay’s classroom with a green Santa’s hat on and watched the proceedings.
“I think it’s pretty amazing when complete and total strangers are willing to provide a party and gifts to little children,” he said.
School is so academically orientated these days that events such as classroom parties are fewer, he said. He was glad to see the first half of the school year end on a fun note.
“It just seems to get bigger and better every year,” Marianno said. “I don’t know how that happens.”
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.