Local family spreads holiday cheer in memory of son who passed away years ago

Posted at 8:23 PM, Dec 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-25 22:29:30-05

The holiday season is all about spreading cheer, but it can be a difficult time for those dealing with the loss of a loved one. It's a feeling Dale and Lissa Gere of Nampa know all too well.

After the Geres' six-year-old son Robert drowned just before Christmas in 2005, they started a new tradition based around spreading holiday cheer to other kids in the community. 

For the past six years, they've dedicated their holiday season to playing Santa around Indian Creek in downtown Caldwell, posing for pictures and passing out candy to kids in the community.

It's all part of a project they call "Smiles in Disguise". With the help of donations, they ensure a handful of local families in need receive the Christmas they deserve - presents and all.

"My goal out here is just to make a child smile!" Dale said. "Every time I see a child smile I can see a little bit of my son's smile, and it just makes it all much more fun for me."

Gere spends at least one weekend night a week decked out in Santa gear among the holiday lights in downtown Caldwell from Thanksgiving night until Christmas Eve, greeting children, taking wishlists, passing out candy canes and collecting optional donations.

"This year we've [supplied gifts for] two families that we've adopted, and three other families from other people that have called us," he said.

Lifting spirits doesn't stop when the holiday decorations come down, though.

Gere also has an Easter Bunny costume and an outfit modeled after Bumblebee from Transformers, to bring smiles year round.

"We are planning on getting an Optimus Prime, and I'm hoping to get a Batman and an 
Ironman but those suits are a little more expensive and will take longer to save up for, but I would love to get all of those," Dale said."

To learn more about their mission, click here.