This is one of my favorite times of year…Santa Fund donations are pouring into our office and I get to process them. It’s not like receiving a regular donation that comes with a check and a formal pledge form. These donations come in Christmas cards, with sticky notes attached, with handwritten acknowledgments…and sometimes in a big paper sack with hundreds of coins collected by area school children.
You see, the Santa Fund is a 118 year old tradition—a partnership between The Daily Progress, WINA Radio, and the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area. Thanksgiving comes along and the Santa Fund is kicked off with an article in the newspaper, alerting us that many of our neighbors don’t have money to buy basic necessities for their children, like clothing, coats, shoes and eyeglasses. While programs that make Christmas a little more joyful for kids have their place, the Santa Fund is about meeting needs all year long. Donations are divided amongst 9 counties* and distributed via vouchers to families to purchase specifically requested items. The trouble is, this year the need is so great that many localities have already spent their entire budget in the first four months of school. So, please, give what you can. Every gift, whether that’s $1, $100 or $1,000, will be used to provide children with items that many of us take for granted—shoes without holes, underwear or a warm jacket.
So, back to the story I started to tell. Many people have been giving to the Santa Fund for dozens of years, and this being my 11th year of processing donations, our repeat donors are very familiar to me. I get a big stack of envelopes on my desk every afternoon and start to enter their information into our database one by one. People like to donate in honor or in memory of friends and family. Sometimes it’s in honor of pets. It makes me sad when spouses have given every year together and then one year it’s in memory of one of them who passed. Sometimes it’s in honor of grandchildren, and a donor’s list of kids gets longer every year and I think how blessed they must feel. Sometimes it just includes a note of gratitude for the program and well wishes that we meet our goal. Other times it’s the frail handwriting of an elderly person who sends their $10, and I recognize that they will probably feel the pinch on their wallet to make that contribution. I feel honored to be the one to get to know these donors through their little sticky notes and scraps of paper that come sealed in their envelopes. And appreciative of every single one of them.
Every year, this feels like a big Santa Fund family in our community. As far as I’m concerned, the more, the merrier!
*The Santa Fund serves the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson and Orange Counties. Mail your donation to the Santa Fund at 806 East High Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902.
Posted by Shaele Wood.
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