AUSTIN, Texas—Students, faculty and staff from The University of Texas at Austin will gather on the West Mall steps of the Main Building at noon, Friday (Dec. 6) to join Orange Santa in Songs of the Season, a holiday sing-along that has become a university tradition.
Santa Claus, dressed in orange, will help celebrate the filling of a replica of the Tower on the West Mall with new toys donated by members of the university community. Toys were collected in offices throughout the campus as well as during sporting events and at the guard booths at university entrances.
Orange Santa began in 1994 as a program designed to foster a more caring community by providing help for members of the university community who have special needs during the holiday season. In December 2001, Orange Santa served 353 families, including more than 1,000 children.
Based upon the Salvation Army model, the Orange Santa Holiday Store provides an opportunity for eligible families to "shop" for gifts and toys for the children of their immediate family.
The donated gifts this year will be distributed Dec. 7-10 at the Orange Santa Holiday Store. They will go to families from the university community with special needs this holiday season. Family eligibility to shop in the Holiday Store is determined through an application procedure coordinated by Human Resource Services in cooperation with the Austin Christmas Bureau.
In December 2001, more than 400 people donated their time as volunteers for Orange Santa. The total does not include the numerous members of organizations sponsoring donation drives. This year, a record 620 volunteers are helping 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 and greeters.
"The university community has been very eager to get involved with this event," said Kathy Fries, volunteer services coordinator with the Office of Relationship Management and University Events. "The Orange Santa project this year represents the largest outpouring of volunteers ever for this holiday program. The volunteers represent a diverse group of students, faculty and staff."
Songs of the Season is a holiday sing-along presented by the combined choirs of the School of Music and members of the Tower Singers, a staff organization. Orange Santa’s appearance at the occasion has become a university tradition. The event also provides an opportunity for people to donate new, unwrapped toys to help fill the replica of the Tower. Song sheets will be provided.
Following the Orange Santa Holiday Store operation, remaining items will be donated to the Christmas Bureau for distribution to the broader central Texas community via the Brown Santa, Blue Santa, the Salvation Army and other central Texas holiday donation programs.
The University Federal Credit Union, the University Co-op, the University of Texas Club and the Charles A. Dana Center have been major contributors to the Orange Santa program.
For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.