Santa stood on the walkway out front, directing traffic into the busy Payless Shoes at Westfield Shopping Center in West Covina.
More than 156 students from Villacorta Elementary anxiously waited Wednesday for the big red traffic cop to direct them into the store.
The Rowland Unified kids were the guests of the West Covina Sunrise Rotary Club. The philanthropic group was treating them all to a new pair of shoes and socks for Christmas.
It's all part of the club's annual Santa Shoes and Socks event. Every year, the Rotarians pick a local school to help out.
"We decided to invite Villacorta this year to our special event," said club president Don Dirian.
Santa invited the students into the busy store one group at a time. Fellow Rotarians served as Santa's helpers, guiding the children to the right size.
"This is the first time for our school. I'm thrilled for the kids, we're very fortunate to have the Rotary Club," explained Principal John Martinez.
Martinez kept a smiling eye on the long line of pupils standing along the railing. All would get the chance to pick out that special pair of shoes and socks they want.
One lucky bunch had already received their early Xmas present. Jasmine Alvarez, 7, looked sharp in new knee high fur boots.
"I was surprised when they told us we could pick any pair we wanted," the fifth grader said. "I think these boots will keep me warm on these cold winter days."
The West Covina resident proudly displayed the colorful socks purchased to go with her new boots.
Classmate Desiree Cervantes was busy lacing up her new plaid sports shoes. The 10-year-old La Puente girl smiled as she cinched the laces tight.
"I decided to go with black socks, they're better," Desiree noted.
Some kids picked boots, some sandals, some shoes. The socks came in a kaleidoscope of colors.
The only constant was the big grins lighting up everyone's face.
"Fortunately, we raised $3,000 at our Day at the Theater fundraiser," Dirian said. "And Payless is giving us a discount on the shoes."
The popular shoe store brought in extra elves to handle the students. And many club members showed up to help out.
"I've been doing this for five years, and I'm still touched by the looks on their faces," the Rotary president admitted.
Soon Santa would be able to return to the North Pole to prepare for his big trip on Christmas Eve. But it was nice of him to take time out of his busy schedule to make the holiday a little brighter for Villacorta School.
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