It’s hard to think of a year in recent memory when children and families were in more need of a little holiday cheer — along with financial support and other essentials so many have lost throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With these concerns in mind, the Pasadena Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) has modified its annual Operation Santa toy distribution project so that it is possible to serve the Pasadena community, even during a global pandemic.
Every year since 1934, the Pasadena Jaycees’ Operation Santa has been a bright spot in the year for thousands of children throughout the San Gabriel Valley. The Jaycees receive letters from local children, collect and purchase toys, and then, on December 24, typically, each of those children gets a visit from a “Santa Claus” volunteer. They are given their toys, and a chance to pose with Santa.
This year, the project will look very different. Children and families will submit their letters digitally and sign up for a time slot to pick up their toys via a contactless distribution setup. Families will stay in their cars and be greeted by a mask-wearing Santa and hand-sanitized elves. However, the Jaycees will keep the holiday magic alive with a decorated Winter Wonderland at the pickup location at the Scottish Rite (150 N. Madison Avenue), and this year, the Jaycees hope to serve more families than ever before.
The Jaycees are working with the Pasadena Health Department to ensure the safety of volunteers and toy recipients. Current Pasadena Jaycees President Nick Scott stated, “After being forced to cancel a number of our annual community service projects this year, I am so pleased that we have been able to come up with a way to carry out Operation Santa in a safe manner during the current coronavirus pandemic.”
Additionally, this year Operation Santa will be placing special emphasis on providing children with STEAM toys, with the help of a generous grant from the Tournament of Roses Foundation.
Children and families wishing to pick up toys must submit their letters by December 14 via opsanta.com. Pickup slots are available on December 19, 20 and 21 at the Scottish Rite. Those interested in donating toys or volunteering to help with the contactless toy distribution can find more information at opsanta.com.
The Pasadena Jaycees began in 1929 and have been a volunteer and leadership training organization for people aged 21 to 40 ever since. For more information about joining or about any of the Jaycees’ projects, please visit www.pasadenajaycees.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.