Fresno

Team Santa brightens Christmas for four Fresno families

Michale Tejada of Team Santa helps carry a mattress for a family near downtown Fresno.
Michale Tejada of Team Santa helps carry a mattress for a family near downtown Fresno. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Santa Claus and his helpers arrived in a U-Haul filled with food, gifts and furniture for a single mother of four who shared a second-floor, two-bedroom apartment within hearing distance of Highway 99 near downtown Fresno.

The visit last Saturday (Dec. 22) wasn’t unique.

Michael Tejada spent his 16th pre-Christmas weekend delivering an estimated $4,000 worth of food, gifts, furniture and other items for four families in need who were identified by Centro La Familia.

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Kimberly Rose of Team Santa helps carry some donations for a family near downtown Fresno. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

“I didn’t grow up with much,” said Tejada. “We understand what it is like to grow up and your parents tell you ‘Your Christmas gifts are coming later.’”

Tejada and his siblings knew, however, “they wouldn’t come.”

That is why Tejada, with some prodding from his mother, assembled Team Santa to deliver donated items to needy families in the region. This year, the four families live in Fresno. In the past, the crew has gone to Huron, Mendota and San Joaquín to help make Christmas more cheerful.

Last Saturday, Team Santa delivered $300 worth of food to each family.

At the apartment near the highway, they also assembled a bunk bed, hauled up a couch and dresser, and left other items.

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A member of Team Santa helps carry a drawer for a family near downtown Fresno. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

At another address, they delivered and installed a washer and dryer.

“This is the first year we have rented a U-Haul,” said Tejada, who was born and raised in Del Rey.

Sixteen years ago, his mother asked Tejada and he and his PG&E co-workers could help a cancer survivor (a single mother of four young children) with food, clothing, gifts and household items.

“That year, we were able to provide this family with a Christmas they never could have had,” said Tejada. “From that day on, Team Santa has been spreading Christmas cheer to at least four families every year.”

That calculates to 64 families who have been touched by Team Santa.

The effort is mainly funded by donations by PG&E workers, Kasco Fab, Destination Adventure Racing (DAR), friends and family members.

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