The sole purpose of this event is to provide 60 – 80 vulnerable families with a memorable holiday experience filled with fun and laughter. At each of the past 16 events, we have hosted up to 360 individuals (children and their families) and anticipate a similar number will attend this year’s function. Families are selected through the Family Access Network (FAN). The families chosen represent economically challenged and at-risk families in Central Oregon, who have been identified by family advocates.
Wonderland Express is a magical afternoon of family fun. To create this, a cadre of dedicated volunteers begins shopping for winter clothing and toys early in the year. The organizing committee, made up of volunteers who have been with the event since its inception, meets with increasing frequency as the event date draws near. For the day of the event, the Bend/LaPine Public School District donates transportation from Bend to the event. The families are welcomed by volunteer hosts and are treated to a holiday dinner in a beautiful, festive setting. In the past, activities have included a family photo session, a craft corner, Build-an-Animal, a magic show, hay rides, visits with the Sunriver Fire and Police departments and an ice cream sundae bar. The event culminates with a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus with each child receiving a stocking stuffed with age/gender appropriate treats. Each family leaves the event with their professional family portrait, a gift card for groceries for a special holiday meal, wrapped presents for the children, warm winter gloves, hats and scarves, a warm fleece blanket and memories that will last a lifetime. For most of these children this will be their only holiday experience. In 2018, we are celebrating the 17th anniversary of Wonderland Express. Our hope is that these families, for at least one day this year, can put aside their troubles and concerns and share the wonder and magic of the season with each other.
Wonderland Express is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible (tax id # 20-0036466) with 100% of the funds raised going directly toward the event.
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