KANSAS CITY – They didn’t wear big red coats and drove around on a sled, but on Saturday members of the Royals organization turned into “Santa” for a few hours and attended the gift season.
Royals Charities and Santa For A Day partnered with the Kansas City Housing Authority on Saturday to provide gifts and supplies to nearly 500 children ages 5 to 12 in the Kansas City area. During the three-hour event at the Clymer Center Gym on Vine Street, Royals officials and former Royals pitcher Al Fitzmorris handed out the gifts Royals Charities bought for each child participating in the program.
“It was really cool,” said Kyle Vena, Royals vice president for Community Impact. “It was a really unique experience, a highlight of their efforts at the start of the season. And not just getting the gifts, but actually giving them to a child who came with their family members or siblings, mother and father, just to have that kind of celebration when we get on vacation, it was like that great to be a part of. “
Santa For A Day is an Illinois-based charity that provides Christmas gifts, basic necessities, and educational materials to disadvantaged children in urban public housing. Last year, through its partnerships, the organization reached more than 5,600 children and gave nearly 10,000 gifts to children in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, and Milwaukee.
It only grew from there. Kansas City was added to that list in 2021, and in October the Kansas City Housing Authority held letter writing events with volunteers who worked with children as they wrote their letters to Santa Claus. After the personal information has been redacted, the letters are uploaded to santaforaday.net and the organization works with volunteers to fulfill any gift request. In addition to toys, many of the inquiries also include basic needs and learning materials.
Partnering with the Housing Authority enables Santa For A Day to target and reach children in at-risk local communities, provide a safe method for contacting families and distributing gifts, and the partnership with Royals Charities ensured that each participant received a gift. Santa For A Day will also host children for a Thank You Santa Claus letter writing event in January, as well as other creative writing workshops throughout the year.
The gifts were wrapped and sent to the housing authorities in preparation for the Christmas party on Saturday. Children and their families came for lunch and cookie decorating while the gifts were being distributed, and other take-away items were available for the families, such as donated clothing and other basic necessities.
Even Slugger, the royals’ mascot, appeared in a red coat and Santa hat.
“It was a really cool experience,” said Vena. “Al Fitzmorris came and Slugger was there and the kids came in and got the gift they asked for, all wrapped up, of course that was the coolest thing just to see them get the gift they got in this one Vacation actually wanted. ”