LDA employee plays “Santa,” gives 100 gifts to local families

KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB) –  The Learning Disabilities Association of Western New York provides services for families with learning and developmental disabilities.  They do a “Giving Tree” Christmas collection fundraiser every year.
But this year, one of their own is taking on the role of Santa Claus and keeping it all here at home.

Katharine Cassens is the Director of Community Relations said, “We kind of think he might be Santa Clause in disguise with the beard and the spirit. He’s such a great guy. We’re really lucky to have him here.”

Jason Rochevolt’s co-workers know he’s not the big guy in red, but his annual Christmas collection certainly brings joy, just like Santa. Cassens said, “It’s for people who wouldn’t have had something, that are going to be able to have a nice Christmas or a nice holiday.”

It started with the organization helping maybe one, or two area families. Cassens said, “We do something differen’t every year.”

That’s until the organzation realized Rochevolt, a member of their own team, collects and donates money and presents to kids in the area every year. Cassens said, “It was like Santa’s workshop exploded in his living room.”

Rochevolt said, “In Buffalo a lot of people aren’t exactly rich around here. We try to help out where we can.”

He’s a Western New Yorker born and bred, and knows it can be tough for some around the holidays. He said, “A lot of my friends really didn’t have much for Christmas. As they got older, I decided I should do something about it.”

This year he’s teaming up with the LDA to make their dream of one big Christmas collection a reality. Cassens said, “It started with helping one of the families we serve, and it kind of spiraled. Staff donated money, they donated presents, gifts they’ve wrapped, they’ve been delivering them to the houses of the families.”

More then 100 presents to more then 30 kids, all local, will get a little extra cheer this year. Rochevolt said, “Every year it’s my pride and joy. Every year to see the toys is awesome. We know we’re bringing the kids a good Christmas.”

If you’d like to help donate to their efforts this Christmas. You can head to their website to learn more and find their contact information. 

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