Pine-Strawberry ‘Riff Raff' Have Big Hearts

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This is a Christmas tale about a group of elves who refer to themselves as "Riff Raff."

Together, they brought Christmas cheer to four working families in their Pine-Strawberry community.

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Santa arrived in a fire truck to bring some extra Christmas spirit to families in Pine-Strawberry, courtesy of the Riff Raff group.

"We don't want to mention specific names of who did what because we did this as a group," member Barbara "Bo" Nader said.

Riff Raff is an informal group with one simple membership requirement: purchase a T-shirt or a ball cap from another member.

"There are hundreds of individual and business members," Nader said.

This past fall, Riff Raff held a yard sale.

From the proceeds, they made up Thanksgiving food baskets for six families.

There was a bit of money left over, so the club planned to adopt one family for Christmas.

When several women from the Valley overheard Nader and her friend Karolyn Maclean wishing Riff Raff could adopt more families, one donated $50 and others brought up five tubs full of clothes and toys for Riff Raff to distribute.

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Santa gives presents to one of the families adopted by the Riff Raff group.

Members made cookies, shopped for toys, donated the money that other members used to purchase pajamas, coats, shoes and clothes.

The 12 days included a pizza dinner one night, hot chocolate in Santa Claus cups and food for a morning's breakfast.

"(On) the night we brought the Christmas tree to the family, the oldest girl was so excited she came running out barefoot in the snow," Nader said.

The Pine Fire Department drove Santa and his elves to deliver the final 12 days of Christmas gifts to the family.

"Because of the "tremendous support," Riff Raff was able to adopt three other families, in addition to the family who was on the receiving end of the 12 days of Christmas, Nader said.

"We did not choose people because they were in dire need of help, but chose working families, with the parent making maybe minimum wage, who probably could have made it if left alone, but we just wanted to give them a little help," Maclean said.

A mother with two young boys, a mother with two young girls and a father raising his two children were the three adopted families.

"I think the children were overwhelmed. It was a beautiful thing to see," Nader said.

Riff Raff began "years ago" when a restaurateur said she was going to get rid of the "riff raff" -- meaning construction workers -- from her restaurant, Nader said.

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Members of the Riff Raff carry presents that were given to families adopted by the group.

Since then, the Riff Raff have had fun, raised money for members in need and toasted members who have passed.

When it comes to good deeds, Riff Raff members prefer to remain individually anonymous.

"We plan to have a spring yard sale so we will have funds," Nader said.

As to making the organization formal, Maclean said, "We are trying to get it organized, but it is going to take a little while."

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