The Dear Santa Society is once again spreading holiday cheer among families in the Bowling Green area.
The non-profit charity is committed to helping families in Bowling Green City schools with children of all ages by raising funds and purchasing food, clothing, personal hygiene items and toys in time for Christmas.
Each family receives toys for the children, clothes, a fruit basket, a ham and a large box of toiletries.
There’s a fundraiser Monday at downtown Juniper Brewing where 15% of all sales will go to Dear Santa.
Earlier this month, a successful fundraiser took place at Beckett’s, said Dear Santa co-chair Kisha Nichols.
“We hope to wrap up the fundraising part soon as we have already started accepting families and people are starting to shop next week,” she said.
Families in need who have children in Bowling Green Schools, or anyone who knows a family, are asked to email Dear Santa at [email protected] or send a letter to PO Box 513, Bowling Green, OH 43402
In the letter, they are asked to briefly describe the circumstances and include the names, sizes, ages, wish list, parents’ names, children’s address and phone number where company members can reach the family to verify. information.
From Wednesday to Thursday, 10 more requests were received and Nichols said she expects to receive letters until the last minute.
The deadline for submitting applications is November 26.
Last year, 39 families and 132 children from birth to 18 years old were helped.
Over the past 14 years, Dear Santa has raised $277,829, which has helped bring Christmas to 419 families and 1,148 children in total.
Letters will be reviewed on a priority basis for families we haven’t helped before or families who haven’t been helped recently, Nichols said.
“It’s not to say that if we’ve helped you before or if we’ve helped you recently that we won’t help you, but you’re going to wait longer to hear because we have to prioritize these new families who have a new struggle, who are asking for help,” she said.
For years Jim and Dee Szalejko coordinated the program. They moved earlier this year.
Nichols said she’s still worried about money and fundraising — and co-chair Jennifer Ostrowski keeps telling her they’re fine.
“I think, just like the challenge everyone faces, everything costs a bit more. It’s definitely an impact when we help families,” Ostrowski said.
To fund the program, they need between $30,000 and $35,000; $20,000 is needed for gifts only.
The company also helped with specific requests, such as rent and utilities.
Last years ham was donated by Nick Snyder’s junior hockey team and team members organize all hygiene items.
Gospel House has donated financially and members are buying and wrapping gifts.
The BGHS FFA chapter will again be donating fruit baskets.
DECA high school students organize a hunger drive and accept monetary donations, in addition to food and hygiene items. The choir will also organize a collection during the holiday concert.
Dear Santa is once again partnering with the Brown Bag Food Project, which will help with packaging and items including everything needed for a holiday meal.
Distribution will take place on December 17 with packaging on December 14. Volunteers are needed for both events and can offer their services through the Dear Santa email or Facebook page.
The company was established in Philadelphia in 1989; at that time, Jim Szalejko helped eight families with $1,000. He brought a chapter to Bowling Green 15 years ago.
Ostrowski said she continued to volunteer because there was a need.
“These are the kids we work with, these are the kids we teach and it’s a way of serving the community,” she said.
Ostrowski is an intervention specialist and Nichols teaches second grade, both at Kenwood Elementary.
“We see these children every day, we see what it’s like for a child who comes back after the Christmas holidays and hasn’t had a great Christmas like everyone else, and I don’t want to see that for the children. “, says Nichols.
A service group or group of friends wishing to adopt a Dear Santa family should contact Nichols for more information at [email protected]
The Society accepts donations of personal hygiene products (shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, feminine hygiene, soap, shaving items), paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, tissues ) and laundry detergent.
Items can be dropped off at Kenwood Elementary c/o Kisha Nichols by December 9th.
Donations are tax deductible. Checks can be made payable to Dear Santa Society and mailed to PO Box 513, Bowling Green, OH 43402; or through Venmo @Dear-Santa.