Now in its 126th year, the Santa Fund for Schoolkids helps children in need across Central Virginia, including in Fluvanna County.
Established in 1894, the fund collects donations to provide vouchers for families to buy shoes, clothing, medicine, eyeglasses, school supplies and other essentials for their children that they otherwise could not afford.
Sponsored by The Daily Progress and radio station WINA in conjunction with The United Way of Greater Charlottesville, the Santa Fund serves children in the city of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson and Orange.
In Fluvanna, school social worker Susan Daly has overseen the program for 24 years. As in other localities, Daly said the recommendation process was a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Daly said she has received a lot of help with recommendations and distribution from the Monticello Area Community Action Agency.
“We’ve gotten a lot of help from the community, which has kept the process smooth in what has been an otherwise difficult year,” she said.
Using funds collected in last year’s drive, Daly said the program has provided vouchers to 108 children from 56 families this year. The majority of those children are under the care of either a single parent of their grandparents, many of whom have been impacted by the pandemic, she said.
Due to a significant number of job losses resulting from the pandemic, Daly said there has been some discretion granted to the amount offered for the vouchers, which typically total $75 each.
“Some of the families I’ve worked with for years, and their situations did not improve this year and, in several cases, even worsened,” she said. “It’s a difficult time for quite a few families.”
Of the approximately $11,000 allocated to Fluvanna, around $3,000 remains, Daly said, an amount generally on par with years prior. More funds can be requested later in the year if needs arise.
One particular situation grabbed Daly’s attention this year.
The grandmother/caregiver of a child she has worked with since he was a toddler reached out to Daly to ask for a voucher and to let her know she was battling cancer. In addition to the voucher, Daly said the Fluvanna County community has stepped up to help the family.
“Fluvanna can be pretty isolated. There’s no public transportation and so if you can’t drive, then even getting groceries can be difficult,” she said. “And so people have been delivering the school meals for her and the child, volunteers have been picking up groceries … and two nights a week, people have been cooking and delivering meals to them, as well.”
In Fluvanna County, 36% of the approximately 3,500 public school students qualify for free or reduced-price meals or other forms of economic assistance.
With the pandemic wreaking havoc everywhere and the growth of Fluvanna’s population, Daly said the Santa Fund program helps to meet a need.
“We live in a very generous and helpful community, and the Santa Fund is a great program that continues that spirit,” she said.
Donations should be mailed to: Santa Fund, 806 E. High St., Charlottesville, VA 22902. Contributions also can be made at thesantafund.org.
In honor of the amazing staff of The United Way of Greater Charlottesville, $256.41
In memory of VeeVee, $307.69
In memory of Helen and Arius Dawson, $205.12
Hallam-Gardner Family, $76.92
In honor of Mary E. and David L., my marvelous parents!, $205.12
TODAY’S TOTAL: $1,051.26
RUNNING TOTAL: $181,166.84
OVER GOAL BY: $6,166.84