In 2007 the Rotary Club of New Port Richey decided to embark on a new program in keeping with it’s theme of “Service Above Self.” Quite simply what we did was identify 20 families in our area that had at least one child of “Santa Claus” age and deliver Christmas presents to them a few days prior to Christmas. You might ask what is so special about that….well I am about to tell you!
All of the presents were delivered by Rotarians dressed up as Santa Claus. Each of the families had been screened for need and had to have at least one child of “Santa Claus” age, and some had other children that were older. No matter what the age of the child, every child in the family received gifts. Each family averaged three children. All children of “Santa Claus” age that we identified, were required to write a letter to Santa Claus outlining what they wanted for Christmas and we did our best to fulfill their requests. As I am sure you can imagine, some of the letters were absolutely priceless. Each child received approximately $225 worth of gifts and necessities (some received gifts such as coats to keep them warm, and sheets and pillows for their beds). In addition, each family received a disposable camera (most of the families don’t have a camera of their own), a certificate to get the pictures developed, a photo album to put them in, and a Christmas dinner certificate so they could enjoy a great Christmas dinner together. Also, all of the Santa Claus’ had helpers with them who took additional pictures, and a 8 x 10 framed picture of the family with Santa Claus was delivered back to the family prior to Christmas. All of the helpers did a wonderful job taking pictures and the Rotary Club produced a DVD of the whole event, including all of the activities that took place leading up to that special night when the presents were delivered. The mission of Rotary is to serve and I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that goal was accomplished. Just as important, in my opinion, is the fact that ALL of the money raised goes directly to the families; the only money that does not is the cost of renting the Santa Claus suits.
The first year, as I stated above, we delivered gifts to 20 families and 60 children. In 2008, the program grew to delivering to 30 families and 90 children. In 2009, the program grew again as we delivered gifts to 40 families and 120 children. Last year we delivered gifts to 41 families and 121 children. Obviously, because of the state of the economy, more families than ever are in need. It is because of the generosity of people throughout our community that we are able to continue to serve and we are happy to do so.
Please consider our request for a donation to help us carry on this great program. Imagine the faces of young children answering their front door and seeing Santa Claus. In addition, imagine the tears of joy from the parents and grandparents of the children when they see what is being done, knowing that without this, their loved ones might not have received even a single present at Christmas.
Thank you for your time.
May you and your family have a great Holiday season.
John Hudson, Chairman
Rotary Club of New Port Richey, Florida
Rotary Santa Program