Santa Claus is coming to the 40 Acres with the Orange Santa program.
Orange Santa is an annual toy collection that began in 1994 to provide help to members of the University who are in need during the holiday season. Donations for unwrapped toys and gifts are being accepted at UT guard stations, parking garage offices and a variety of campus buildings from Nov. 2 to Dec. 7.
“Orange Santa has been a collaborative, successful, University-wide program for nearly 25 years,” University spokesperson Shilpa Bakre said in an email. “During that time, the program has benefited countless University families during the holidays and continues to serve those in need throughout the season.”
Last year, Orange Santa helped to serve 264 families, including 787 children.
Radio-television-film sophomore Cara Daeschner said she plans to donate to the toy drive this year.
“Any effort to provide aid to those in need, I completely stand behind,” Daeschner said. “Helping people in the area allows for collective action that strengthens one’s community. I’ve always believed giving is better than receiving, and I love shopping for gifts for people.”
Following the collection of toys, there will be an Orange Santa Holiday Store in Bellmont from Dec. 9 to 11. The Holiday Store provides an opportunity for University members and families who have completed an application before the Nov. 17 deadline to shop for gifts and toys for children in their immediate family.
Orange Santa also supports the Hispanic Faculty and Staff Association to promote their Holiday Assistance Program. This program provides holiday meal assistance and resources to members of the UT community.
“We believe in supporting our UT community, and there are a lot of employees who are getting by month to month,” said Leticia Acosta, chair of the Holiday Assistance Committee. “It would be a missed opportunity if we turned our back on our fellow employees.”
This year, the Holiday Assistance Program is being officially renamed the John Trevino Jr. Holiday Assistance Program on Dec. 8, the day of distribution. Trevino passed away from his battle with cancer earlier this year, Acosta said.
“This is (named) after a member of HFSA who was an integral part of this program for many years,” Acosta said. “He believed strongly in the mission of service, and we felt this would be the best way to honor his memory.”