Charlottesville City Schools has several programs to help students in need.
But the one they hear the most about is The Santa Fund.
The fund will help children in need across Central Virginia for the 125th year.
Established in 1894, the fund collects donations to provide vouchers for families to buy shoes, clothing, medicine, eyeglasses, school supplies and other essentials for children in need.
Sponsored by The Daily Progress and radio station WINA in a partnership 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.
“This is our primary resource for clothing for kids in need,” said Janie Evans, a social worker with the Charlottesville school division.
The school division is allotted about $18,000 from The Santa Fund and gives out 220 vouchers. Parents can then take the voucher to participating stores and purchase clothes for their children. High school students sometimes use the vouchers to purchase work clothes.
Stephanie Snider, another social worker with the city school division, said the system of vouchers gives children more control than collecting clothing donations.
“Kids tend to have an opinion about their clothes,” she said.
Some vouchers are saved for families that may experience an emergency, such as a fire or loss of employment. Funds also have been used for one-time medical expenses, such as a second inhaler for a child to have at school.
Evans said that more than anything, the program focuses on a child’s needs.
“Sometimes, it’s that middle-income family who is struggling to get by and they just need help,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s the only Christmas they’ll get.”
This year’s Santa Fund goal is $175,000. Last year, a record high of $175,180 was raised. The fund drive kicked off on Thanksgiving Day and continues until mid-January.
So far this year, $36,788.22 has been raised.
Contributions may be mailed to: Santa Fund, 806 E. High St., Charlottesville, VA 22902. Donations also can be made at thesantafund.org.
» In honor of Emma, Benji and Tommy with hearts full of love, Grandma and Granddad, $1,500
» Nelson and Mary Bickers, $500
» In memory of Ginny Wardell, $102.56
» Jane and Stirling Williamson in memory of Bus Williamson, $205.12
» In warm memory of my father, Dale Braithwaite, who loved Christmas, $102.56
» In memory of my grandmothers, Eva Lee Appl and Phyllis Whitmore, both lifelong educators, $25.64
» In honor of Anne Loebs, $300
Today’s total: $2,735.88
Running total: $36,788.22
To reach goal: $138,211.78