GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Santa Claus Girls, a nonprofit in Kent County providing gifts to families in need, has just one thing on their wish list this year: a new home.
The group has been delivering gifts to kids who may otherwise go without for more than a century. Their generosity recently garnered national attention when it was featured on Today.
After taking last year off due to the pandemic, the Santa Claus Girls returned to business this year without a home. The rent-free facility they had previously used for the three months leading up to Christmas each year was no longer an option.
“The company was downsized, so they moved out and consequently, we had to move out,” said Nancy Ditta, the Santa Claus Girls vice president.
Despite losing their facility, the Santa Claus Girls pulled off a successful “delivery day” on Saturday with thousands of families receiving their gifts curbside.
When the first found out they’d lost the facility, the group’s future was uncertain.
“We had no clue how we were going to do another Santa Claus Girls, every single year that we’ve done it, it’s always been in a facility of sorts,” Ditta said.
In the spirit of giving, West Michigan CDL, a trucking school in Grandville, offered up their facility for the weekend.
“It’s a great way to give back and I never thought this is how we would be giving back, but it’s an amazing way to help,” business owner Mike Birdsall said.
In just a matter of days, the Santa Claus Girls and their army of volunteers transformed the CDL garage into a workshop.
“Everything was different for us this year,” Ditta said. “We just kind of went with the punches and tried to figure it out and we’re doing the best that we can.”
All throughout the afternoon, hundreds of cars serpentined the parking lot awaiting their gifts. Volunteers called out each car’s assigned number, sending off every family with their corresponding gifts.
“This year, just not having the facility, we had to do curbside and have the actual clients come to us,” said Ditta.
In the past, the Santa Claus Girls and their volunteers would deliver gifts to the families’ homes.
Just like every year past, parents were grateful for the generosity.
“With COVID, I’m a waitress and we got shut down for a really long time, so stuff like this is really helpful (as we) play catchup on bills,” one mom said. “My kids, their birthdays are the 26th and 27th of December so even more so this is really helpful and I’m really grateful for it.”
In total, the Santa Claus Girls served approximately 6,000 families this year.
“Which is probably about half of what we usually do,” Ditta said.
Without a facility, they had to limit the number of families. To get back on track by next Christmas, the Santa Claus Girls are asking the community to help them find a new place to call home.
“A donation for a facility for us, that’s the biggest goal and that’s what we’re all hoping for so much,” Ditta said.
Anyone with ideas for the Santa Claus Girls can contact them through their website.