“Put a Smile…” Event Surpasses Goal Of 1,000 Toys For Local Kids

by Staff Reporter / Dec 11, 2017 / comments
Hundreds of children and their families lined up at the Put a Smile on a Child’s Face toy giveaway and Christmas party are all smiles. Event was held at Iglesia de Santa Cruz grounds Satrueday, Dec. 2. Courtesy photo

“Put a Smile…” Event Surpasses Goal Of 1,000 Toys For Local Kids

By ROBERT NARANJO

When the popular “Put a Smile on a Child’s Face” had a two year hiatus because Peggy Suazo-Romero, Co Founder and Vice President of the Sportsmen and Concerned Citizens of New Mexico (SCCNM)--which is the sponsor--broke her foot in a fall almost three years ago, she vowed to bring the Christmas toy giveaway back for its 21st year after she recovered from her injury. She did just that and got a TV news anchor, Kim Vallez, KRQE Channel 13, in Albuquerque as the special guest and to emcee the event.

TV news anchor, Kim Vallez, a special guest and emcee at the Put a Smile… event is shown with her children, Peggy Suazo-Romero, wearing Christmas attire, Fr. Javier Gutierrez, Iglesia de Santa Cruz, and volunteer Teodora Valdez. Courtesy photo

Suazo-Romero told the valleydailypost.com in September that “her goal was to reach 1,000 toys for the children”-- she not only reached that goal--she surpassed it by 200 for a total of 1,200 toys. She gathered the toys with many volunteers and with the help of La Iglesia de Santa Cruz de la Canada, Fr. Javier Gutierrez and church staff.  “What more beautiful place to take the event than to the holy grounds of Holy Cross,” Suazo-Romero said in an interview.

Peggy Suazo-Romero, Co Founder and Vice President of the Sportsmen and Concerned Citizens of New Mexico (SCCNM)—sponsor of Put a Smile on a Child’s Face-- is shown here holding a baby at the Dec. 2nd toy giveaway and Christmas party. Courtesy photo

A total of 138 people donated toys to help her exceed her goal, she explained. Suazo-Romero said she was on “the road for three months” getting toy donations and she added that a flurry of “toys came were donated in the last few weeks” to help put her over her goal.

At the Put a Smile…toy giveaway held Dec. 2,  “I was told ‘you brought the families and children together,’” she said. 

Suazo-Romero is a past Española Valley Chamber of Commerce “Woman of the Year” and served as “Grand Marshall” for a recent Española Electric Light Parade. Additionally, the SCCNM’s Put a Smile on a Child’s Face toy giveaway event received the “Non Profit Organization of the Year” from the Española Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Tony Suazo, who died in a hunting accident in 2003 was the founder of the SCCNM and the Put a Smile…toy giveaway and Christmas party.  It all began with a dream that Tony had one night which was “to put a toy in the hands of every child in the Española Valley,” and he did with the help of his wife Peggy. They gave up their vacation one year to start this event that had its 20-year anniversary without fail three years ago in 2014 Suazo-Romero explained. Two years passed healing from her injured foot and now Suazo-Romero has brought it back with help from her many friends and encouragement from members of the community.

She dedicated the Put a Smile…event to the memory of Melinda Gonzalez who founded the Oasis of Peace Youth Group at La Iglesia de Santa Cruz de la Canada.  Gonzalez’s youth group “would perform at the Christmas party every year” Suazo-Romero said.  She also dedicated it to the Española Fire Department and Fire Chief John Wickersham, veterans, police, the sheriff’s department--Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan attended--musicians who played for the Christmas party and, of course, all the children.

Santa Claus is shown here holding a baby at the Put a Smile on a Child’s Face toy giveaway and Christmas Party. Española Presbyterian Hospital sponsors Santa Claus and has done so for many years. Courtesy photo

“You have to give Peggy a great deal of credit for bringing this event back with an extremely successful toy drive and the Christmas party that is part of the toy giveaway,” said Robert A. Naranjo, President of the SCCNM, which puts on the Put a Smile… event. “I am of the opinion that she’s one of very few people in the north who can do something of that scale successfully and does it for the children,” Naranjo added. “I’ve helped with Put a Smile…since 2003 and it’s been great to see all the smiles, literally, on all the children’s faces,” said Naranjo.

Kim Vallez, KRQE TV 13 news anchor was the special guest and served as emcee. Vallez also brought her own children to the event and sent Suazo-Romero a thank you card after returning back to Albuquerque. This year’s Onate and La Reina and her court also volunteered for the Christmas party. Española Presbyterian Hospital provided the Santa Claus who arrived by EFD fire truck.

Española Presbyterian Hospital provided Santa Claus who arrived by EFD fire truck. Santa is shown with Peggy Suazo-Romero and a lucky little boy. Courtesy photo

Peggy Suazo-Romero is already planning the 2018 Put a Smile… toy drive and Christmas party because the children are her passion and have a special place in her heart.