Valley kids help others have a merrier Christmas through Special Santa program

Amazing Grace Academy students stuff tons of toys into the car to send them off to Alaska...
Amazing Grace Academy students stuff tons of toys into the car to send them off to Alaska Family Services' Special Santa Program.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 9:33 AM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - While presents are by no means the most important part of Christmas, they certainly are a cherished part — especially to kids who don’t get that many presents during the holidays. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, students at Amazing Grace Academy built up a huge pile of toys to go out to the less fortunate in the Valley.

It’s part of Alaska Family Services’ Special Santa program. Program CEO, or “Chief Elf Organizer,” Katrina Holder said as of Friday, 3,000 families were set to have a better Christmas because of donations around the Mat-Su.

It’s something that the private school does every year, but in 2020, it feels a bit more special to kids like 5th grader Charlotte-Joy Marciales.

“I’m thankful,” she said, “I’m thankful for the people that have the time to put in the effort to have people’s Christmas turned upside down, in the right way.”

The need has certainly increased because of the pandemic. So Holder said anyone who needs help can get it.

“We’re helping any and all families that have been affected by the pandemic,” Holder said. “So we’re not looking at financials. If a family was affected in the beginning of the year — like lost their job, lost the hours — then we will help them. Because we know by the end of the year they may have that job back, they may have more hours, but at the end of the day they might not have extra money,”

Mat-Su residents can register for some help from the Special Santa program until 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Those looking to register need to do so at the Alaska Family Services office.

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