Santa’s Workshop spreads holiday cheer to Waco ISD

Santa's Workshop allows students and organizations to donate toys for the Holidays here in Waco. Photo courtesy of Michael Tinker.

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

For years, Santa’s Workshop has spread the joy of Christmas to hundreds of children ages 3 to 5 from day cares and Head Start centers across Waco. The organization began in 1992 and has been planning this year’s festivities throughout the semester.

Head Start is a program within Waco ISD that also exists throughout the rest of the country, providing services and benefits to children from lower-income families and helping to decide where the presents from Santa’s Workshop go.

In years past, the organization held an annual Christmas celebration where children received a free gift and meal and engaged in festive activities like making crafts, meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus and listening to stories read by Baylor President Linda Livingstone.

While there will not be an event this year due to COVID-19, spreading joy hasn’t stopped. A donation drop-off will be held from 10:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 19 at Martin House. Donations can include new packaged unisex toys. Flower Mound senior and Santa’s Workshop president John Bowen said past toys have included Mr. Potato Heads, race cars and dinosaurs.

“We’re just trying to keep the tradition going and spreading the Christmas cheer,” Houston senior and Santa’s Workshop public relations chair Michael Tinker said. “These kids don’t always get a lot of Christmas gifts — or any in some cases.”

Donations will be taken to children on Dec. 3. The gift drop-off will feature a special guest: Santa.

“We’ve had a great relationship with Santa Claus,” Bowen said. “We work with the big man. We wrote him, and he comes down to Baylor every year.”

Multiple Baylor organizations are pitching in with donations, including Student Government, Baylor Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council and multiple sororities.

“Our hope is to give these kids maybe four or five toys,” Bowen said. “We’ve been talking to sororities, fraternities and other groups, and we actually think we can make that work.”

Dallas junior and Santa’s Workshop vice president Elise Banderob said as a part of Baylor, it’s good to serve kids and Waco overall in any way they can.

“We are here for four years,” Banedrob said. “To be able to give back in that way is really neat.”

Bowen estimated to receive between 500 to 1,200 toys.

“I’m sure these kids are going to be surprised when they see Santa, and I think this will be something they remember for their entire life,” Bowen said