SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The fifth annual Coach Claus Toy Giveaway for all of Springfield’s youth and their families took place on Saturday. Santa Claus himself arrived in style aboard a helicopter, and hundreds gathered at Blunt Park to greet him and receive a free toy, thanks to the “I Found Light Against All Odds Coach Claus Toy Giveaway”.
The event is hosted by Stefan Davis, the CEO and President of I Found Light Against All Odds and Lighthouse, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping youth address social, emotional, and economic issues that they are experiencing in their lives, and empowers them to break the cycle of poverty, according to their website. Mayor Domenic Sarno of Springfield was also in attendance.
Saturday, they focused on young members of the community by making sure they have a gift to enjoy on Christmas. The helicopter landing was quite the spectacle for the Blunt Park Neighborhood and a scary one for Coach Claus, too!
“Well, I’m afraid of heights!,” said Coach Claus, “But you know what it’s about? The kids. I had to get over that. It’s not about me. None of this is about Coach Claus. It’s about our mission and vision as an organization giving back.”
Organizers told 22News that this year they wanted it bigger and better than ever to make sure the kids attending felt represented and cared for. “The first few years Coach Claus came in on a horse and carriage, he’s come in on a firetruck. He wanted to make it bigger and better, and said ‘Why not shoot for the helicopter? Something that has never been done in the city before’,” expressed I Found Light Against All Odds Board Member Lisa Lombardi, “It’s really important first of all, I think, to see a man of color to come out and represent those kids out there. So it gives someone that looks like them to let them know we are thinking about them and it’s really hard, and just to enjoy the spirit of the holidays and give back.”
The event was made possible with support from Monson Savings Bank, the Massachusetts State Police, and the City of Springfield.