Since 1934, through their Operation Santa project, the Pasadena Junior Chamber of Commerce has brought toys, cheer and a visit from Santa Claus to tens of thousands of children in the Pasadena area. And it all starts with a letter.
Children in Pasadena can write letters to Santa and a team of Junior Chamber (Jaycee) volunteers will read and record it. From there, toys are donated, collected and purchased to best meet the requests of each individual child. Children with greater needs will be given highest priority. Additionally, this year, special attention will be paid to emphasizing books and STEM-related toys. Also, while the Operation Santa project was originally rooted in the Christmas holiday, children from all backgrounds and religions are encouraged to write letters to celebrate the season.
“Operation Santa changed my life,” says Pasadena resident and former Jaycee President Todd Vradenburg. “I’ll always remember gathering at my aunt’s house in Northwest Pasadena on Christmas Eve and waiting for the Santa visit. Years later, when I learned of the Jaycees and discovered that they were responsible for one of the biggest highlights of my childhood, it was at that moment that I understood what giving back is about. I joined the Jaycees and became a Santa. Every time I put on that suit and take gifts to kids, I get to relive my childhood. Words cannot explain the joy that it brings me.”
Throughout November and December, more than 50 teams of Santas will be coordinated from volunteers in the community and Jaycee members. On Dec. 24, those groups of Santas, Mrs. Clauses and elves will hand deliver the collected toys to each child who wrote a letter. Those interested in donating toys or volunteering as part of a Santa team can find more information at opsanta.com.
The Pasadena Jaycees will be accepting letters to Santa until Dec. 10 via mail and until Dec. 20 via digital submission at opsanta.com. Letters to Santa must be legibly written by the child in his or her own words. The letter must include the child’s name, age and address. A letter template is available at opsanta.com. Letters can be submitted at opsanta.com or sent via mail to:
474 W. Walnut St.
Pasadena, CA 91103