By Matt Boniface
Christmas is the season of giving. One local organization is dedicated to that adage by collecting gifts for children in need. Sincerely Santa’s annual kick-off parade will be held on December 1 at 8 a.m., hosted at Desoto Elementary in Tampa. Local police and first responders will escort Jolly Old Saint Nick as they begin their 29th year of bringing smiles to the faces of children.
Sincerely Santa Tampa collects toys, clothing and school supplies for children in the Hillsborough area who are considered ‘at-risk’ and underprivileged. These children, between kindergarten and third grade, write letters to Santa describing what they need most. Their teachers add additional essential information such as clothing sizes, siblings and special needs. The letters are then reviewed by the Sincerely Santa Elves and are added to a display at the Westfield Brandon Mall along with additional partner locations. Community members can become sponsors to make a child’s wish come true by donating the needed items. After selecting a wish to fulfill, unwrapped items can be dropped off at any Sincerely Santa booth. These donations are delivered to the children’s homes in time for Christmas. These necessities could be as simple as clean clothes, a pair of glasses or even a bed to sleep on.
No child is left without a gift. Wishes that were not selected by sponsors are gathered by the Sincerely Santa Elves. Using financial contribution from businesses and community members, the elves purchase items to fulfill the wishes of these local children.
Sincerely Santa has been bringing smiles to the Tampa area since 1987 with the support of Hillsborough County Public Schools, Fire Rescue, and Law Enforcement. If you would like to contribute, they are always seeking donations and volunteers.
What exactly is a child “at-risk”? “[At-risk youth] include elementary and secondary school students who run the risk of not acquiring the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to become successful adults and behave in ways that put them at-risk for not graduating from high school.”
For more information, visit Sincerely Santa on Facebook @SincerelySantaTampa or www.sincerelysantatampa.org