CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Organizers with the 15th annual Student Santa event in Cape Girardeau say they are not cancelling this year’s event due to COVID-19.
However, they will have to make some alterations as safety is of the utmost importance in eliminating the spread of the virus.
Student Santas Founder Jennifer Gast said it’s important these families still get their Christmas meal and presents and keep the tradition alive and going.
She said COVID-19 cannot ruin the spirit of Christmas.
“Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas,” Gast said. “I cannot think of a better way to be more Christ-like than to give and to give with all of your heart and I think this is a wonderful way to do that. I think by showing other people that hey, ‘I’m here and I love you and I care about you and I want you to have a good Christmas’, I think it’s the act of giving; it’s not the gifts. It’s the act of what you’re doing that makes it so special.”
Instead of a sit-down family meal, they will have take out packages for families to pick up, as well as, presents for the children to help reduce the spreading of COVID.
Gast said it’s the best they can do considering the circumstances with the virus.
“There’s a lot of our families, they don’t even have enough to eat,” Gast said. “This little 7-year-old girl wrote me this letter and mentioned COVID though. It just kind of got me right here because I want everyone to know this is a tradition for us and this is something that is so important for me. It’s so important for everybody that helps us. It’s a tradition for a lot of families.”
Even Gast’s son said he feels it’s necessary to help out these families, especially during this time of uncertainty where some may have lost their jobs and others affected by the virus.
“It makes me a little more happy helping other people,” Caleb Gast said. “The meaning of Christmas, it’s just a time to enjoy with your family, celebrate Christ and help others.”
Gast said they are still looking for donors and are still accepting applications for families that need help for this Christmas.
She said the deadline for applications and letters mailed in must be postmarked by December 1.
Food will be provided by the casino in Cape Girardeau.
For more information on Student Santas, visit their website here.