How the Santa Project works with families of children with long term, life threatening or terminal illnesses.
Santa has a special request line for Tammy and Traci, the two Child Life Specialists that work with the families and hospital social workers to identify the neediest families and pediatric patients that are going through an indescribable situation. We focus on the entire family. Most of the time in these types of situations, time, attention, energy and money understandably goes towards the child with the illness and sometimes the siblings feel left out or overlooked. What the Santa Project does is identifies the needs of the family and then gets a Santa wish list from each of the children in the family. We get games the entire family can play together and each of the children and the parents get gifts and toys picked out especially for them. Santa also leaves a Christmas Stocking stuffed to the top chosen just for them.
We deliver to the house a few days before Christmas and we deliver with Santa, Mrs. Claus, a couple of actual elves and a Deputy in uniform. We have several Santa’s that speak languages other than English and have been called on to do so over the years. We sing songs and unwrap gifts with them. We allow them to take all the pictures they want with us and sometimes they allow us to post some of those pictures. We have the families open a few gifts during Santa’s visit just to give them a glimpse of what is to come on Christmas morning. While Santa is entertaining the children, Santa’s helpers along with the Deputy unload Santa’s sleigh. We leave the stuffed handmade Christmas stockings (donated by the Toy project and made by some of their elves) along with several presents for each family member living in the residence. This includes the big gift from Santa, usually bikes, helmets, Barbie Dream houses, giant Lego sets and other items requested by the kids in the family. When the kids wake up Christmas morning, they find Santa has not forgot them. Santa will even put from mom and/or dad name tags on the gifts to put under the tree before Christmas morning.
We have arranged stays, and purchased tickets for Disneyland and six flags ( some family trips have been paid for and donated by the Sheriff’s Department employees and private parties), we have delivered and installed washing machines and dryers and even a stove, we have delivered dressers, beds, televisions and countless tablets and hand- held computer games. We try to identify what type of gift cards each individual family needs during this traumatic time and put them in their Christmas stocking. We purchase gift cards to local eating establishments (McDonalds, Denny’s, Sizzler, etc..) to help with the constant back and forth to the hospital visits. Some just need to grab a coffee or something to drink such as Starbucks, Jambe Juice or Dutch Brothers while waiting on the treatment for the child to finish
We deliver boxes of food, grocery gift cards, gas gift cards and cards to department stores. We are only able to do all these things because perfect strangers like yourselves, businesses, companies and personal friends of ours donate, money, toys, gifts cards and time to the Santa Project every year. Nobody associated with the Sheriff Santa Project receives compensation for what they do, everyone is a volunteer in the true sense of the word and volunteer their time graciously. We get as much pleasure and satisfaction doing this as the families get who receive these blessings.
Merry Christmas and God Bless from Santa Mike, family and friends.