Brian Firth opens a gift from Santa Clause at the Cache Employment Training Center Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.

LOGAN – It was an exciting time at Cache Employment Training Center (CETC) on Friday, Dec. 10 as the clients met with Santa Claus who brought gifts.

Floyd Hardman opens a gift at the Cache Employment Training Center Christmas Party on Friday Dec. 10, 2021.

CETC has been inviting the jolly old elf and his wife for 21 years.

Our clients are ecstatic over Santa coming every year,” said Sandra Smith, executive director of the facility. “They start to ask when Santa is coming as early as September.”

Mr. and Mrs. Claus came bearing gifts for the 113 excited people with disabilities, down from the 150 clients they normally have. There are fewer clients largely due to COVID and the staffing shortage affecting many of the businesses in the country.

“We were short on staff, so we ask the parents to come and be with their children,” Smith said. “Without the parents we wouldn’t have been able to do it this year.

CETC is a 501(c) nonprofit organization that teaches people with disabilities life and employment skills.

“We reach out to banks, families, businesses and foundations that will sponsor our Christmas program,” Smith said. “They give us anywhere from $20 to $1,000 we use to get gifts for them.”

Janet Flinders, who dresses as Mrs. Claus, gets excited watching the clients open the presents. Flinders has been dressing as Mrs. Claus for 21 years at the event. Flinders is a Logan Kiwanis Club member and is instrumental in putting the event together every year, which includes soliciting money and donations. She also goes shopping for the clients.

“Today is her Christmas,” Smith said. “She looks forward to it every year.”

One by one the clients come to meet Santa and get a gift or two.

Flinders came with her husband for the first 10 years, and after he passed Brent Dyer puts on the white beard and red suit. He has been doing it for 11 years.

Brent Dyer, Mike Guthrie and Jante Flinders dress in holiday garb to give Christmas to CETC clients on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.

The Christmas activity is supported in a large part by the Logan Kiwanis Club. They donate $5,000 every year to help pay for the gifts, and there are other businesses and families that donate to the cause.

Mike Guthrie dressed as an elf and gave out gifts and kept things going. He also led the clients in Christmas carols and cheers.

“Amid COVID and the staffing crisis a day like this makes it all worth it,” Smith said. “This activity makes us want to stay in business and provide this for our clients.”

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