Students, faculty and staff members at The University of Texas at Austin will gather on the university's West Mall at noon Dec. 2 to sing in celebration of the holiday season and the generosity of people who contributed to the Orange Santa gift program.
Songs of the Season will feature choral organizations from the university's 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 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 designed 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 2010, Orange Santa served 318 families, including 955 children.
The 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 campus-wide donation drive as well as items collected at special events.
In December 2010, more than 500 people donated their time as volunteers for Orange Santa. The total does not include the numerous members of organizations sponsoring donation drives. Volunteers help with the Orange Santa program by decorating the Holiday Store, collecting toys at athletic events, assisting with inventory, wrapping gifts, helping shoppers and working as interpreters.
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. 2. 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, which is sponsored by the Office of the President, is a collaborative program involving many university units and friends. The University Co-op, the University Federal Credit Union, the University of Texas Club and other organizations and individuals provide financial support for Orange Santa.