The mission of Santa Claus, Inc. is to provide new toys, new clothing, and new books for over 20,000 underprivileged children each Christmas. Parents are invited to select Christmas gifts for each of their children at the Santa Claus, Inc. 'Workshop.'The goal of Santa Claus, Inc. is to make each parent feel as if they are really 'Christmas shopping' rather than receiving a direct offering from a charity.Hundreds of volunteers work together, lovingly preserving the dignity of approximately 8,000 parents, grandparents, or guardians yearly.
Family referrals come to Santa Claus, Inc. through various city and county agencies, churches, schools, and friends. Families from throughout the greater San Bernardino area, including Highland, Colton, Redlands and other surrounding areas, are eligible for help. In addition to the families who are helped directly at 'Santa's workshop,' many are helped through other organizations with donations of clothing, shoes, toys, books, and candy rolls provided by Santa Claus, Inc.
Santa Claus, Inc. is indeed one of the most unique charities in the United States. Volunteers, including the Board of Directors, give thousands of volunteer hours each year with no compensation. Santa Claus, Inc. provides a way of life for many of its senior volunteers. It is a lifestyle of giving that provides a wonderful purpose in the lives of many. It is so much more than a few volunteers getting together one week out of the year to hand out some clothes and toys to the needy. Santa Claus, Inc. provides friendships, support during difficult times, and a wonderful way to stay involved in the community. Santa Claus, Inc. does not take time to ponder secular or historic barriers that may divide some people - it brings people together. Volunteers from all corners of the region - the probable and the improbable - come together for a common cause. People with enormously diverse heritages and backgrounds work together striking a common chord of human generosity. Santa Claus, Inc. has proven that human kindness need have no boundary. Santa Claus, Inc. was founded in 1952 by Mrs. Mignon Schweitzer, a member of the Jewish community who was concerned about the need for helping the less fortunate during the most popular season of the Christian faith. Mignon brought various concerned community members together for this ongoing project that would serve members of all faiths. Mignon's family embraced Christmas during her early years, celebrating each year at her grandparent's home in San Bernardino. This childhood experience was the impetus for an organization that has continued to serve the most needy children of the community. Mignon Schweitzer served on the Board of Directors until her death at age 96. Mignon's protege Karen DiCarlo has served Santa Claus, Inc. for over 30 years as volunteer, Christmas Tree Lane Chairman numerous years, the organization's longest serving president and ultimately it's first Executive Director. As Executive Director, Karen is tasked with the job of major fundraising to keep the Santa Claus, Inc. organization stronger than ever in the 21st Century.
... Packaging at the warehouse ..... Harriett and Karen talk quilting ..... "Sticthes from the Heart" .....
... Executive Director Karen DiCarlo photos at Inland Fundraising Academy Graduation on Feb. 28, 2012
In 2013, more than 20,400 children received toys, books, clothing and more, said Executive Director Karen DiCarlo.
Qualifying families visit Santa Claus Inc.'s distribution site in San Bernardino to shop for free among donated gifts.
"This year, we just finished our distribution for San Bernardino, Colton, Rialto, Highland and Redlands school districts," DiCarlo said. "About 8,000 families were served."
Family referrals to Santa Claus Inc. come through various city and county agencies, churches, schools and families.
Mignon Schweitzer, a member of the Jewish community who was concerned about less fortunate families during the holiday season, created the nonprofit organization. Schweitzer's family had celebrated the Christian holiday during her youth.
Her childhood experiences at her grandparents' home in San Bernardino motivated Schweitzer to create an organization that would meet the needs of less fortunate children.
Funding for the program comes from the annual Christmas Tree Lane event, grants, business and individual donations.
The Christmas Tree Lane fundraiser always takes place the first weekend in December. This year's two-day event, which was held at the National Orange Show Events Center, was titled "Reflections" to celebrate the 60-year anniversary.
The event began with a black-tie dinner and ended with a Macy's fashion show.
"The showcase was our beautiful trees designed by local professionals," DiCarlo said. "People bid on those, we had a live auction, a silent auction and boutiques."
Last year, The Community Foundation awarded a grant dedicated to coats to Santa Clause Inc.
"Because of that grant, our clothing buyers were able to put a nice sum of money down for coats, which are expensive for us," DiCarlo said. "And because we were able to buy in bulk, we were able to get them at a great deal and that was really a windfall for us. We'll be applying for another grant soon."
Santa Claus Inc. also receives thousands each year in donated goods and funds from corporations such as Macy's and Mattel, as well as individual donors.
In addition to occasional grants and fundraising events, Santa Claus Inc. gets help from thousands of volunteers.
"We don't even know how many volunteers we have, but we estimate a couple thousand," DiCarlo said. "We have people from all over the U.S. that knit and do other things to help."
For those interested in volunteering for Santa Claus Inc. there are a variety of options. Interested parties may email DiCarlo at email@example.com or may visit www.santaclausinc.com.
"I refer volunteers to our vice president and he works with them to find a good spot," DiCarlo said. "Some may be good speakers, some may want to package the goods, some may be fundraisers. Volunteers can take a tour of the warehouse and we'll put them in a job they love."
"Once you get into the organization, you'll probably stay," DiCarlo said. "Many have been here for 50 years. It's a wonderful thing for many of our seniors."
Christmas Tree Lane Event
Santa Claus Incorporated was established in 1952. The first year almost 500 children were served. Today we target over 17,000 especially needy children annually. For more information, please email us or click on this link at Elves@santaclausinc.com
Aid to the needyMichel Nolan staff writer, San Bernardino County Sun
Karen DiCarlo has looked into the faces of the working poor - parents struggling to clothe and feed their kids.
"We can look everywhere in the communities we serve and see thousands who are struggling for survival. Poverty debilitates families - the burdens can be unbearable," says Karen, president and head elf of Santa Claus Inc., a nonprofit that helps families in need during Christmastime.
This year's Santa Claus Inc. Christmas Tree Lane fundraiser - with the theme "The World Celebrates Christmas" - will be the most beautiful in the group's history, Karen says.
The Friday to Saturday extravaganza is an evening gala of dining, dancing, live auction, fashion show and tree drawing, at 6 p.m. Friday; and the luncheon, fashion show and tree drawing at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Both events are at the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino and feature designer Christmas trees that reflect the theme.
"It will be like getting on a train to go around the world - with the Pacific Islands, Europe, Africa, Asia, and of course, America," says designer and event chairman, Derrick Vasquez.
"Sure, we're all busy, but there's such a need for these kids. That's what the season is all about," says Derrick, director of special events, catering and sales at the events center.
Each of the 16 designer trees will be unique - some fun and animated, others more subdued and earthy, he said.
Master of ceremonies for the black-tie-optional evening gala is Mayor Pat Morris; luncheon event emcee is Ron Stark, "Voice of the Inland Empire."
Following the hearty four-course dinner, author and culinary guru Martha Green, will serve as auctioneer extraordinaire.
Macy's Fashion Extravaganza, presented by Couture Productions, will showcase designs reminiscent of Paris or Milan for both the evening and luncheon events, according to Derrick.
This year's honorees are Harriett Niemeyer, a 50-year volunteer at the Santa Claus Inc. warehouse, who will be presented the Mignon Schweitzer Memorial Award; and the Matich family for its continued support of children's programs, recipient of the Dick Bryant Memorial Award.
Both events also will offer opportunities to help Fund a Child, which enables people to adopt a child at Christmas for $25. The amount provides clothing, a toy and a book.
Dancing to the music of Smooth Touch rounds out the evening.
Since 1952, Santa Claus Inc. has made the holidays a little merrier for more than 400,000 children.
This year alone, the organization will help 15,000 children, according to Karen.
"We are so proud of the clothing and toys made by our extraordinary volunteers," says Karen, a lifetime volunteer who's been helping others since her Girl Scout days.
"Most of parents of the children we help are the `working poor,' people who have jobs and pay bills but have nothing left for Santa gifts," she says, "and the numbers are increasing."
All Santa Claus Inc. needs is a few more good elves.
Santa Claus Inc. putting together massive list
Santa Claus Inc. is making a list and checking it twice.Possibly the mother of all Christmas lists, there are already 17,000 names on it, according to Karen DiCarlo, president and head elf of the San Bernardino-based nonprofit organization.
"We have those 17,000 requests so far and more are pouring in from all over the country," Karen says. "We only take care of local people, but it proves how unique we are."
The organization, now in its 59th year, helps parents in need give to their children at Christmastime.
Parents "shop without charge" in the Santa Claus warehouse each December, selecting clothing, toys, books and goodies for their children - all donated or handmade by Santa Claus Inc. volunteers.
These hundreds of volunteers are the elves who make miracles happen each year.
They're the unsung heroes, the faces of generosity.
Bless their little pointed ears.
For a week each December - Dec. 7 through 14 this year - a plain distribution center in San Bernardino serves as the North Pole.
The 6,000-square-foot building is stacked to the ceiling with the donated treasures. For some families, the box of goodies they leave with is all there will be under the tree on Christmas morning.
Many of the parents are not welfare recipients but the "working poor," people who have jobs and pay bills but have nothing left for Santa gifts.
Last year they made Christmas a little merrier for more than 17,000 local children.
Karen anticipates more need than ever this year. "We're blessed this year with donations from Mattel and others, but our biggest needs are underwear, socks and diapers. They are expensive for us and every parent wants them." Mundane but necessary.
Although elves are working feverishly, there is also still a need for gifts for older kids - younger children's things are easier to come by, according to Karen, now in her tenth year as president.
"A lot of the letters from families include their story and they are so sad," she said. "I'm really touched."
Santa Claus Inc. miracles are also made possible by fundraisers.
Christmas Tree Lane, the annual Santa Claus Inc. fundraiser, is set for Dec. 3 and 4 at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. For tickets and information, call Ann Doty at (909) 886-2528.
To volunteer, or for more Santa Claus Inc. information, call the warehouse at (909) 885-0090 or e-mail Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: as of late December 2011 more than 445,000 local children have been served. New volunteer workers are welcome year round...
Santa Claus NOW ACCEPTS PayPal for donations online on our home page.
You may donate as little as $25 which will provide a wonderful group of clothes, books and toys for one child. $50 will provide for two and $100 will provide for four. How do we do it? Because so many businesses and over 2,000 volunteers work year round without pay giving their time and resources! Become part of the joy and donate today. Click on the PayPal Donate Button to go to our HOME PAGE to help.