Songs of the Season Event Features Orange Santa at The University of Texas at Austin

Songs of the Season, a traditional holiday event at The University of Texas at Austin, will bring together students, faculty and staff at noon on Dec. 3, to celebrate the holiday season and the generosity of people who have contributed to the university's Orange Santa gift program.

Songs of the Season features choral organizations from the Butler School of Music and the Tower Singers, a staff organization. Orange Santa also will make an appearance at the event.

The annual program concludes the Orange Santa donation drive. In preparation for the Holiday Store, Orange Santa and many volunteers will be present to accept donations and fill a replica of the university Tower with toys.

Orange Santa began in 1994 as a program to foster a more caring university environment by providing help for members of the university community who have special needs during the holiday season. In December 2009 Orange Santa served 485 families, including 1,779 children.

During the 2009 Orange Santa program, more than 500 people donated their time as volunteers. In addition, numerous members of organizations sponsored donation drives. University Police collected donations and purchased new bicycles and helmets. The Division of Continuing and Innovative Education made 40 fleece blankets. The Office of the Dean of Students decorated gift bags for the program.

The program's Orange Santa Holiday Store provides an opportunity for participating families to "shop" for gifts and toys for children in their immediate family. The store is stocked with items contributed through a university-wide donation drive as well as items collected at special events.

New, unwrapped toys or gifts in original packaging and wrapping supplies will be collected at university guard stations on the main campus and at the Pickle Research Campus through Friday, Dec. 3. Gifts also are being collected at locations throughout the university and some off-campus sites.

The donated gifts will be distributed to employee and student families from the university community with special needs during the holiday season. Participants who shop at the Holiday Store complete an application process.

Orange Santa is sponsored by the Office of the President but it is a collaborative program involving many university units and friends. The University Co-op, the University Federal Credit Union and the University of Texas Club provide financial support for Orange Santa.