Seven-year-old donates birthday gifts to Brown Santa

Isaiah Wolfenstein, 7, of Kyle with the toys and games to be delivered to the Hays County Sheriff’s Office Brown Santa program. He decided to donate all of his birthday presents and money to help children who wouldn’t have anything to open on Christmas morning. (Photo by Rita Wolfenstein)

by KIM HILSENBECK

Like many children, Isaiah Wolfenstein, 7, of Kyle had a birthday party in November. Unlike many, though, this little boy decided he wanted to give his 15 gifts to kids who would not have any presents to open for Christmas.

So the unwrapped toys and presents were delivered to the Hays County Sheriff’s Office Brown Santa program last Saturday.

Isaiah’s mom, Rita Wolfenstein, said he also used the $75 he received for his birthday to purchase more gifts, including 12 board games, clothes, balls and a baby doll.

Lt. Dennis Gutierrez, who has coordinated the Brown Santa program for the last 23 years for the department, said this young man really made an impression on him. During the wrapping session where they had more than 250 volunteers, Gutierrez shared Isaiah’s story with the group.

“There were people who had tears in their eyes when they heard what this little guy did,” he said.

Gutierrez said the department’s Brown Santa program will help more than 350 people around Hays County this year, down from nearly 600 struggling families in each of the past two years. Still, he said donations were a bit lower this year than in the past.

He also said that monetary donations are still being accepted.

“It’s not too late; we still may get another 40 or 50 people asking for help,” Gutierrez said. “Plus, we have other expenses such as the storage facility and insurance.”

Gutierrez said Brown Santa recipients appreciate the help at this time of year, especially since the delivery also includes a ham, potatoes, bread, milk and canned goods.

Wolfenstein said her son also donated his $30 in gift cards to the children’s home in San Marcos and several other toys to a local school’s Angel Giving Tree.

She said he had never expressed an interest in giving away his toys in the past.

“We always talk to our children about giving and helping out others, so we were shocked – in a good way – to hear he wanted to give all of his birthday gifts away,” Wolfenstein said.

To donate to the Hays County Sheriff’s Office Brown Santa, contact Lt. Dennis Gutierrez at (512) 393-7877.

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