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Realtors give back to community this holiday

Driving his 1969 silver and black Camaro, Frank Napoli II leads a car caravan of Napoli Group Berkshire Hathaway Home Services agents. Each car is filled with unwrapped toys and bound for the first of two wrapping parties in Summerlin hosted by the Department of Family Services.

This year marks Napoli’s seventh annual toy drive for foster children. The caravan of toys, once wrapped, will provide a little Christmas cheer for foster children staying at either the Department of Family Services Child Haven facility or in the foster care system.

From Napoli’s Toy Drive to collecting sweaters, area Realtors and developers have found creative ways to make a significant impact in our community by helping those in need.

The annual toy drive began in commemoration of Napoli’s late father, Frank Napoli, who taught him at an early age the meaning of giving.

“As a family we would go shopping for toys,” Napoli said about his family’s tradition of giving every year. “My father wanted to show us how important it was to give and support others that didn’t have the luxury of receiving gifts like we did as children.”

Now, each year Napoli asks his fellow BHHS agents, clients and members of his classic car club to donate unwrapped toys for children in need.

“We just can’t give them enough,” Napoli said. “There’s always a need for toys.”

Throughout the holiday season, children of all ages can experience a 60-minute immersive experience. Tivoli Village is transformed into Operation Santa Workshop by founder Nicole Tomlinson of the Ivan Sher Group, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. This is the fourth year for Tomlinson’s passion project.

The experience takes visitors through six North Pole-themed rooms over 10,000 square feet while journeying to the big guy himself, Santa. Over 62 employees bring the magic to life.

Participants get to create an ornament, engage in a snowball fight, spend time with Mrs. Claus, learn about reindeer and get their picture taken with Santa. General Admission and VIP tickets are available.

“There is nothing like this in Las Vegas,” Tomlinson said. “Where families can come indoors and make a family tradition.”

Over the last four years, Tomlinson has seen her event grow from 4,400 to an estimated 10,000 attendees while increasing the size of the venue from 2,700 to 10,000 square feet. She has also allowed hundreds of underprivileged children to experience the Workshop at no cost.

“It’s charming for me to hear about people’s experience,” Tomlinson said. “And about how they look forward to it every year.”

Developer Rich MacDonald and his wife, Claire, opened their beautiful home for over 250 guests to benefit the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation. It was the third time the couple have hosted the holiday event.

“Everyone was asked to bring an unwrapped toy for a child,” Claire MacDonald said at the event. “People are very generous. They really are.”

Throughout the evening, MacDonald’s guests were treated to complimentary valet service, trays of foodie enticements and a live performer singing songs from the Great American songbook.

Transporting the donated toys from the MacDonalds’ home takes multiple trips, loading several vehicles. The toys are distributed throughout December either by delivering directly to the family or given to the family during a special holiday get together at the foundation office.

“Most of these families are very hard pressed to come and pick it up,” Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation President and CEO Jeffrey Gordon said at the event. “We make a lot of deliveries from now until Christmas, which is one of my favorite times of the year.”

With over 15,000 members, The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, GLVAR, made its largest donation as a sponsor of the 21st annual 95.5 KLUC Chet Buchanan Show Toy Drive to help children in need. This was the second year GLVAR sponsored the drive. GLVAR President Janet Carpenter said GLVAR increased its support from $5,000 to $14,500 this year, including donating and assembling over 90 bicycles, sponsoring a Giving Tree at the toy drive location and sponsoring a truck to transport all the donations.

IREM 99 (Institute of Real Estate Management, Las Vegas Chapter) also contributed to this year’s Chet Buchanan Show Toy Drive by donating $2,000 and 11 bicycles.

GLVAR further recruited over 100 of its members to volunteer at Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest on Dec. 16.

Valley Coldwell Banker agents get into the spirit of giving by supporting causes throughout the community.

For the last 15 years, Kameron Kildea of the Centennial Hills Campus and his family, friends and clients have worked with the National Center for Children and Families (NCCF) to select and provide for a family in need.

Alex Vazquez of the Green Valley Campus travels to his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, twice a year to support a local orphanage. His second trip took place in December.

Jacqui Barr, of Coldwell Banker’s Green Valley Campus, supported the Spirit of Christmas with the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. Barr was inspired to help after receiving a request from a survivor of homelessness, who benefited from the rescue mission’s services.

Serving the needs of the homeless this year, Lake Las Vegas developer Raintree Investment Corp. held its annual Dasco Sweater Drive. The drive collects gently used sweaters throughout December. The sweaters were cleaned by Mo’s Cleaning and then distributed to the homeless in downtown Las Vegas through the Las Vegas Rescue Mission.

“The sweaters are going to people who are in critical need of warmth at this time of year,” said Patrick Parker, president of Raintree Investment Corp. “It’s real people giving to real people.”

Parker estimates the community provided over a thousand sweaters to those in need. This is the third year the community participated in the Sweater Drive.

Mount Charleston Realty’s Family Team enjoys serving the community in many capacities.

“We reflect on the heartbreak of families and children who may not be able to celebrate this time of year with gifts under the tree,” Mount Charleston Realty broker Angie Tomashowski said. “This brings our lives into perspective and compels us and others to help, even if just in a very small way.”

The entire Tomashowski family serves food at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission and donates to Shade Tree of Las Vegas, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Lundy Elementary School in Mount Charleston.

They further donate to the Indian Springs’ Thanksgiving Food Drive, benefiting approximately 45 families in the Indian Springs community, and participate in the community’s Christmas Adopt-an-Angel Program.

“Indian Springs is a small community,” Tomashowski said. “So the impact is big, affecting many families and students attending this small, rural school.”

Realtors further impact the community by supporting area nonprofit organizations, such as the Natural History Museum.

The second annual Kendra Scott “Sip and Shop” fundraising event to benefit the museum was held on Dec. 5 at Fashion Show mall.

“We expected to make $2,000 for the museum,” said Kristen Routh-Silberman, Global Real Estate adviser of Synergy/Sotheby’s International Realty. “We made and beat our goal.”

Routh-Silberman, who has been a member of the Natural History Museum board since 2015, said 20 percent of all the evening’s proceeds go to the museum’s programs.

“The proceeds will assist the museum in the efforts to fulfill its mission,” Routh-Silberman said. “To educate our community about wildlife, the environment, science and ourselves.”

Beyond the holiday season, Realtors spread Christmas cheer throughout the year giving back to those in need.

Ivan Sher, owner of the Ivan Sher Group, BHHS, is passionate about giving back to the community he serves, supporting a dozen organizations over the year, including the American Cancer Society, Girl Scouts, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Jewish National Fund and several others. Sher believes in giving back.

“Giving back is so important to me because it is a way for me to help support these other incredible, life-changing organizations,” Sher said. “And our community as a whole, just as they have supported The Ivan Sher Group. We have been so fortunate and want to do our part in the community.”

Sher is publishing a special charity edition of their magazine, Las Vegas IS Luxury, to create awareness for small, lesser-known nonprofits.

“It is so important to spread the word, educate and promote these causes so that their outreach can grow,” Sher said. “And they can continue to do the incredible things they do.”

Lee M. Riseman of Luxury Estates International personally funds the pet rescue nonprofit Those Left Behind (TLB Foundation) through her family foundation. In December, Riseman delivered cases of animal food.

Riseman and her husband, Benson, also funded and built the Riseman Family Theater for the Discovery Children’s Museum this fall.

“It’s for all children to experience the creativity of the arts,” Riseman said. “I cried when we shared the unveiling with the community open.”

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