Now in its 125th year, the Santa Fund helps children in need across Central Virginia, including in Fluvanna County.
The Santa Fund, established in 1894, collects donations to provide vouchers for families to buy shoes, clothing, medicine, eyeglasses, school supplies and other essentials for children in need.
In Fluvanna, school social worker Susan Daly has overseen the program for 23 years. As in other localities, Daly said most recommendations come from teachers near the beginning of the school year.
Daly said she has received a lot of help with recommendations and distribution from the Monticello Area Community Action Agency, as well.
This year, Daly said the program has provided vouchers to 157 children from 81 families. The majority of those children are under the care of either a single parent of their grandparents, Daly said.
“While we usually provide around one voucher per family, there are families with multiple children who get more than one voucher,” she said. “This year, I’ve spent $12,000 of the $14,000 budget, which I credit to a tighter system for voucher recommendations.”
Having funds left over allows for greater flexibility through the rest of the year, Daly said.
Daly said that recently the program was able to provide vouchers to a single father with two children who lost their belongings in a house fire.
“These vouchers can be taken to the stores immediately to buy clothing, which is really helpful in a situation where a parent may not get money for insurance for several weeks,” she said.
Other instances have arisen in the past where a parent may receive custody of a child partway through the school year and qualify for a voucher, or their financial situation may change.
In Fluvanna County, 32% of the approximately 3,500 students this school year qualify for free or reduced-price meals or other forms of economic assistance
As the county has grown, Daly said so has the need, with some differences from year to year. For single-parent households, she said increasing rent prices have posed the greatest barrier, something the vouchers help assuage.
“The Santa Fund is a great program that has done a lot of good in Fluvanna and we’re glad to be part of it,” she said.
» James Judd and Nancy Landis, $200
» In memory of Jim Chapman and George Randolph, $50
Today’s total: $250
Running total: $189,302.81
Over goal by: $14,302.81