CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The pandemic didn’t stop one Heartland organization from giving out gifts and warm meals this Christmas Day.
“Seeing the look on their face whenever they see the toys and the meals, a lot of people just wouldn’t have had a warm meal today and now they do, and their kids get to open a present. The might not have had that otherwise,” said Megan Hurst, President of Student Santas.
Instead of the usual, community meal, this year, Student Santas turned the event into a drive-thru. Families could pick up to-go meals and presents for their kids. Century Casino in Cape Girardeau donated the meals.
“2020 was so rough for people. They experienced layoffs, unemployment, people lost family members. So we expected to have a greater need this year, and we did. We received more letters this year than we ever have. But it’s been very humbling to watch the community rally around us,” said Hurst.
Despite the pandemic, Hurst said more people donated and adopted families this year than ever before.
“It’s been a very hard year, so it’s awesome to spread some joy today on Christmas,” she said.
“It feels great just helping people out on Christmas Day after we opened all our presents. Some people aren’t as blessed as we are, and to be able to give back and make sure they have a good Christmas as well feels good,” said Austin Gast, Student Santas volunteer.
“We love doing it. We come out here every year, and it’s just great,” said Caleb Gast, Student Santas volunteer.
“It’s good to see all the families smiles when you walk up to the car and bring them the food and presents,” said Caleb Garner, Student Santas volunteer.