For the second year, volunteers from Montreal sorority Kappa Phi Beta are putting on their Santa hats to raise spirits and bring joy to local children. With a focus on philanthropy, the sorority, composed of about 20 students from Concordia, McGill, Université de Montréal, and Université du Québec à Montréal, started the Santa Project during the 2020 Holiday season as a way of giving back to the community.
The Santa Project
The virtual project invites children and families to participate from home through free video calls with Santa, or by requesting a personalized letter from the jolly man himself.
Concordia student and Kappa Phi Beta President Mikayla Glumac says the idea came about last year in an effort to raise spirits during a holiday where most everyone was stuck at home. Response was swift, with volunteers fielding more than 200 video calls and replying to 100 letters. While the original plan was for this to be a one off event, positive feedback and emails from families expressing how much happiness it had brought them prompted the project’s resurgence this year.
How it works
The approximately five-minute long video calls with one of four volunteer Santas are available by appointment on the weekends of December 11-12 and December 18-19. Similar to the classic mall Santa visit, children can chat about their Christmas wishes, tell stories, or ask about Mrs. Claus and Rudolph.
And while the project revolves around Santa Claus and Christmas, everyone is welcome to call, no matter what holiday they celebrate. “We offer general holiday calls with Santa and general holiday letters by Santa,” Glumac says. “In addition, this year we have added Arabic as an option for Santa calls, as well as an option for Arabic and Spanish written letters.”
Glumac says that with the rise in the use of technology and online meeting platforms such as Zoom, the project is sustainable and they hope to continue it in coming years. “Since we offer this completely free of charge, I think it is a great opportunity for families who are underprivileged or restricted in certain ways,” she says. “Some of the emails from last year outlined situations like being unable to get to a mall because of transportation and work hours, and Santa experiences similar to this one being too expensive. Santa Project gave their children the opportunity to meet Santa when they would have otherwise not been able to. I believe that this project has more to offer than just being accessible during Covid-19.”
Besides answering calls and organizing the event, the sorority sisters have had a chance to connect in person with some of the young children. Glumac recalls one email from a mother with an image of a letter her daughter had written to Santa. Learning about the hardships the family was facing, the sorority put together a bag filled with toys, stuffed animals, and small gifts for the young girl to enjoy. “We delivered it to her house and the mom was so happy she was almost in tears, Glumac says. “I still keep in touch with the family and I’ve already texted the mom to send something over again this year.”
Although the program is free for families, participants wishing to pay it forward can check out the sorority’s “Spread the Spirit” list of organizations in need. “This project isn’t only offering happiness to children, but it is also a means of encouraging [others] to help the community.”
Parents can book a time slot for a Santa Zoom call by visiting santaclausproject.splashthat.com
For those wishing to receive a personalized letter or email from Santa, a form can be filled out at this address. The deadline to fill out the form to get back a letter is December 12, 2021.