Project Santa Volunteers Spread Christmas Cheer

By: Gary Smollen Email
By: Gary Smollen Email

Many people are spending at least part of the Christmas weekend with family, but there are others who spent part of their Saturday helping others.

The giving doesn’t start during the holiday season. Project Santa at Omaha's Open Door Mission is a year 'round event. An estimated 2,000 volunteers played a role in the success of Project Santa.

Saturday was the big day at the Open Door Mission, but it takes all year for the event to be a success. Even though the toys are the big draw, Project Santa helps in many ways.

Tracey Curtis is called the "diaper lady" and she doesn't mind a bit. Although it is one of the lesser known stations of Project Santa, Tracey knows how important diapers are and how much parents appreciate them. "It's not just about the toys and the food, there are also other needs that people need to have met."

Tracey is one of an estimated 2,000 volunteers who make Project Santa a reality. Donations are accepted year 'round, then hundreds of volunteers sort the toys by gender and age in the late fall and just before Christmas they are given out to families who need a helping hand. The volunteers make it all possible.

"They could be with their family, I'm sure loved ones are coming into town, I'm sure they have wrapping and shopping left to do, there are many things they could be doing, but they're here giving three to four hours of their time to make Christmas for someone else," said Candace Gregory with the Open Door Mission.

That's the way Tracey and the rest of the Diaper Station feel. They want to give back to the community and Project Santa is the best way they know how. "So my son and I started giving Christmas cards to people and realized that didn't have an effect. They open it up and there is kind of a let down with no money in it, so now we're able to do something where we're really giving back now."

In the spring, planning for the next Project Santa will be in full swing and they will determine need and break that down by age and gender of the children involved.

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