Folsom Umpqua Bank Raises Money to Buy Gifts for the Youngest North Bay Fire Victims

FOLSOM -- For hundreds of Santa Rosa kids, who thought the October flames that turned all normality into cinders and would definitely melt through any chance at a merry Christmas, Andrew Duckett and his Enterprise truck came pretty close to a real live Santa Claus.

"It's exciting," Duckett said. "I didn't really think I'd be the guy that would dress up as Santa Claus."

Duckett is the store manager at the East Bidwell location of Umpqua Bank in Folsom.

"We tried to pair a lot of the toys together, so kids would get more than one thing. So, like a jump rope with markers and a coloring book," Duckett said. "For younger girls we've got baby dolls and stuffed animals. For some of the older kids we've got Nerf guns."

For two weeks now Duckett and the Umqua elves have been wrapping up an idea that came to him after the devastating cluster of North Bay fires.

Around $5,300 were collected through GoFundMe to buy a little bit of the season and some necessities for the littlest among those who have lost so much.

"We'll be back at the desk wrapping and then we'll hear the door, we pop our heads up," said Umpqua banker Valerie Moulton.

Some of the wrapping sessions at the bank went well past banker's hours and until 1 a.m.

"Having two kids myself, I can't imagine trying to explain that Santa will still find you wherever you're at and not having your home to have Christmas time," Duckett said.

An address in ashes won't matter when all the gifts are handed out at the Umpqua Bank in Santa Rosa on 4th Street.

Duckett wants each child to walk away knowing they have a much wider family than their immediate one.

"That's as valuable for a child as the toy," Duckett said. "The toy's the fun part, but just knowing people are there for them, Santa's gonna be there for them."

The Christmas party for the wildfire victims will be held at the Santa Rosa Umpqua Bank on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To register, visit the event's page.