Sprinkle of joy: Santa’s Workshop ensures kids have magical Christmas

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be returning to meet children in the Waco community. Photo courtesy of Michael Tinker.

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

Santa’s Workshop continues to spread Christmas cheer to hundreds of children ages 3 to 5 in local day cares, schools and Head Start Centers.

This year, the organization plans to drop off 350 presents in late November or early December. Both toy donations and monetary donations from the Baylor community are accepted.

“We understand it can be difficult to have to go out of your way to go find presents,” Michael Tinker, Houston senior and vice president of Santa’s Workshop, said. “So we wanted to make contributing to our event and the Christmas celebration for these kids a lot easier.”

Tinker said toy donations must be in the $3 to $6 price range, in the 3-year-old to 5-year-old age range, packaged and unisex. They cannot include Play-Doh, Barbies, toy soldiers or toys that come in hard-to-wrap packaging, like small bags.

Elise Banderob, Dallas senior and president of Santa’s Workshop, said she recommends checking out Five Below and Dollar General for gifts. She said last year, gifts included Mr. Potato Heads and ‘doctor set’ kits.

Each classroom will receive a care package with toothbrushes, toothpaste, introductory readers and crafts for students, Tinker said. Across the board, he said reactions from students and teachers have been positive and thankful, and the Baylor community has been more excited than ever.

“Last year, we didn’t have a ton of volunteers,” Tinker said. “I think it was just part of COVID-19 that a lot of student organizations experienced, like the drop in interest. But this year, so far, the biggest difference that I’ve seen is the interest from just students wanting to participate and help out with the event.”

Banderob said in past years, the organization has held an annual on-campus event for low-income preschoolers around Waco. This includes visits from Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and President Linda Livingstone.

“We put on a giant Christmas party for them, and Santa will come, and we do crafts with them and give them lunch and presents and books,” Banderob said.

However, Santa’s Workshop’s event was held off campus last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year, it is being held off campus again due to busing issues with the Waco Independent School District and Head Start schools. There will not be any transportation provided, Banderob said.

Tinker said the organization will create a plan with the Waco Independent School District next year in order to ensure transportation and an in-person event.

“Whether that’s chartered buses or just ensuring that there is transportation in advance, we’re going to make it happen no matter what, because we want to just ensure that the kids have a great Christmas,” Tinker said.

Banderob said the event is a great way to spread Christmas cheer and do something fun.

“The kids are so worth it,” Banderob said. “There’s so many kids that get to experience the magic of Christmas because of the work that we do.”

Toy donation collections will take place from 10 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 in Martin House.

Santa’s Workshop will also host a wrapping party where students can come and wrap all the presents that have been donated. The event will start at 6 p.m. on Nov. 29 in the Bobo Spiritual Life Center Great Room.