Omaha, NE — Christmas is less than a week away and Open Door Mission is helping to spread some holiday cheer!
For years, the Omaha non-profit has hosted its annual “Project Santa” program, which gives away thousands of toys to kids in the Omaha area.
“We are so grateful to the generosity of the community. The need is so great we’ve actually done this for 3 Saturdays. This is our last day. We’re serving about 1300 children today,” says Candace Gregory president and CEO of the Open Door Mission.
The trunks of people’s cars were filled up this year more than ever! Not only could families get toys, but they were also given diapers, clothes, and a turkey, along with other food items.
Normally, parents are allowed to pick out the items they want, but this year’s ‘Project Santa’ was turned into a drive-thru to encourage social distancing.
Gregory says the need for food, at least, has increased over 50% this year.
“Even in our homeless prevention programs, we’ve seen such a huge increase. We did Farmers of America from March until October and served almost 31,000 households with fresh food and vegetables. We saw many new families so we knew that there was going to be a need for this program and to do it in a way that was going to be safe for everyone and creative,” says Gregory.
Santa Claus was also on hand to help out as a volunteer. Normally he gets to meet the kids on Christmas Day, but he says making a stop ahead of time was just as special.
“It’s a lot of fun for me, it’s a lot of fun for the guests that do come through. The kids who are in the car get excited. Some of the older kids, I’d say maybe like 13 or 14 they just have that little teenage smirk on their face when they see Santa Claus but the younger kids are a lot happier when they see me and then a lot of adults! I’ve had quite a few adults jump out of the car and want to take a selfie with me which is always fun,” says Santa Claus.