GREAT FALLS — With sleigh bells jingling and Santa Claus in tow, two horse-drawn wagons made their way through the streets of Great Falls on Christmas Day. The wagons were followed by trailers carrying boxes of toys for kids.
"We felt bad about the pandemic situation and the fact that kids couldn't travel for Christmas,” said Pete Fontana, who helped organize the delivery.
"We decided to select a school that's one of the Title One schools that has less fortunate kids in it to hand out gifts and packages on Christmas Day. It kind of got bigger than we thought. We met with the school district and they organized the event and helped us establish where all the kids are,” Fontana said.
The recipient was Longfellow Elementary School.
Desiree Robinson nearly broke down in tears when a present was delivered for her son Jacob: "Oh, my God. It's incredible."
All 525 gifts were bought with money donated from Great Falls-area businesses.
Ann Smyth wasn't sure what was going on at first when the caravan, led by a Great Falls firetruck, showed up at her house.
"It was pretty exciting. At first, I thought there was a fire because of the fire truck,” Smyth said. "It means a lot. The kids definitely are excited for Christmas to be here finally."
"The message that we want to send to the community is that there's always a way to give back and help out everybody else that's less fortunate,” said Fontana.
Because of the large positive response to the event, Fontana said, this may become an annual event.