Blue Santa

Denise Stanaland, who coordinates the Blue Santa program, put boxes in stores throughout Alvin. Shoppers can place items in the boxes to help provide a happy Christmas for children who might not otherwise receive gifts.

Things have been tight for a lot of families the last few years, especially at Christmas time.

Thanks to programs such as Blue Santa, many of the children who might not otherwise receive gifts, can actually make their own choices. But, this year, 96 students will!

Denise Stanaland, who began the Blue Santa program 27 years ago, has found volunteers who will not only visit with the children as they enjoy a hamburger before they shop, but the law enforcement officers, business leaders and other citizens who wanted to help will shop with an individual child.

Each of them will be allotted $150 and their adult partner will keep track of how much money they have spent as they walk the aisles of Wal Mart.

The 13-18 year olds can choose from any department in the store, and many times, Stanaland says the students find gifts for their own siblings, and parents.

Each of the 88 children selected last year were nominated by a teacher, counselor or principal at an Alvin ISD school.

Stanaland spends the entire year seeking donations of $150 per child in order to have enough money to make the Christmas shopping event a success.

She also places toy boxes in stores around town for generous shoppers to drop off items that can be given to the siblings of those selected for the Blue Santa program.

Over the years, as she has continued to organize the event, she has a school bus take the students to McDonalds on Hwy. 1462 for a burger. Then, they are transported to Wal Mart where they are matched with an adult, make their selections, and gain new friends, their shopping partners. The students are not allowed to buy knives, guns, ammunition, or gift cards. However, they can, and often do shop in the grocery section for their families.

“I have seen kids weigh bananas so they don’t go over their money. They don’t want the adult to pay out of their own pockets,” she said. “They are very conscientious about the money they are allowed to spend. Some even buy cookies for their school Christmas party,” she said. "Last year, a junior high school boy bought a small, inexpensive jelly roll from the bakery for his brother's birthday. He said that his brother hadn't had a cake because they couldn't afford it; and he also bought a low priced box of ice cream sandwiches for them to celebrate his birthday, so they could each have one. And, sometimes the adult partners willingly put in a few dollars to help pay for the overage on gifts the child has selected.

Several Alvin Police Officers and Brazoria County Sheriff's Deputies, Alvin ISD and ACC police officers, as well as Judge Randy Langston and Judge Mike Merkel volunteer to help.

 Blue Santa will be held very soon, and anyone wishing to contribute $150 to help an additional child have a better Christmas can contact Stanaland at 281-331-2583.

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