New Era Las Vegas gives out toys, celebrates in Historic Westside


Toddlers and teenagers celebrated early Christmas on Friday night when more than 100 toys were distributed in Historic Westside.

Members of New Era Las Vegas, an activist group focused on the black community, stood in a 20-foot U-haul truck handing out warm burritos to cold parents and a toy for each child in the crowd on McWilliams Avenue was standing. Open front gardens made it possible for children to try out their gifts immediately.

Many of the younger students waved at Russ Perkins, a tall man with a gray beard and a jacket from the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club. Perkins, a teacher at Wendell P. Williams Elementary School, 1030 J St., stood with fellow teacher and motorcycle club member Will Witt.

Witt said New Era Las Vegas leader Rev. Vance “Stretch” Sanders invited her to all kinds of community events. The local Buffalo Soldiers chapter focuses on food insecurity, homelessness, and education.

“Many of them are our students,” said Witt, pointing to a crowd of small children lined up in line. “These are our children. We have to be out here to support and represent the Buffalo Soldiers. “

Before handing out the toys, Sanders introduced New Era and asked a woman to burn sage and honor her ancestors in a traditional African libation ritual. During the gift delivery, a DJ played music in the truck for the crowd to dance to.

“We’re out here because we love you all. We love our community, ”said Sanders. “We’re one of the few groups you’ll see after the 26th. A lot of organizations will come here, they will hand out toys and they will be gone by August. “

Madelyn Rhodes, Resident Council President at Marble Manor Apartments, said she hopes toy rides are one of many events that bring residents together in the quiet neighborhood just below a busy freeway.

“It’s a good neighborhood thing,” she said, pointing to the U-Haul, which was quickly draining. “I think unity in general will be a good thing. We have to adapt to something. Why not adapt to love? “

Toys were gone within an hour, but people continued to play music and dance on the sidewalk after sunset.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.