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Play Santa Claus this season to help local charities

This article is Sponsored by Sanderson Ford

The holidays are a time when thoughts may turn to helping others, so what better way is there to start the season than by playing Santa Claus?

For the 19th year, ABC15, in partnership with Sanderson Ford and Sanderson Lincoln, is running its annual Operation Santa Claus charity drive.

Every year, Operation Santa Claus collects a record number of donations for local charities. This year’s charities are the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, Military Assistance Mission, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, and Special Olympics Arizona.

You can donate Nov. 14 to Dec. 18 by bringing new toys, children’s clothing, nonperishable packaged food, or a monetary donation to any of the following donation points:

  • Sanderson Ford at 6400 N. 51st Avenue, Glendale
  • Sanderson Lincoln on Bell Road at 2121 W. Bell Road, Phoenix
  • ABC15 at 515 N. 44th Street, Phoenix
  • Any UPS Store

Throughout the season, local businesses will host events supporting Operation Santa Claus with additional one-day donation locations. These events include the Swing Fore Santa Golf Tournament on Nov. 17, Walmart’s Stuff the Sleigh Event on Nov. 23, a Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance at Talking Stick Arena on Dec. 1 ($1 from each ticket will benefit Operation Santa Claus), the Roger Clyne Christmas Jam on Dec. 5, the Rio Verde pancake breakfast on Dec. 7, and the Glendale Hometown Christmas Parade on Dec. 14.

One quarter of Arizona children face hunger

The charities supported by Operation Santa Claus support people throughout Arizona, many who work hard but may still struggle to meet the basic necessities of life. However, with the help of nonprofit institutions like St. Mary’s Food Bank, they don’t have to go hungry.

St. Mary’s Food Bank distributes food to 700 nonprofit partners like Our Kids Café, School Pantry, and backpack programs. This is significant because one in four children in Arizona lives in poverty and is at risk of going to bed hungry, according to St. Mary’s.

“Not having enough healthy food can have serious implications for a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity,” according to Feeding America. “Research shows an association between food insecurity and delayed development in young children; risk of chronic illnesses like asthma and anemia; and behavioral problems like hyperactivity, anxiety and aggression in school-age children.”

St. Mary’s Kids Cafe fights childhood hunger by providing free, healthy meals in after-school programs, and distributes 6,000 meals per day at 130 sites across Arizona. On the weekends, the Backpack Program joins with community partners to give at-risk kids bags of non-perishable food to provide three meals for a family of four.

Give back year-round

Even after the holiday season, people can serve the community. For example, St. Mary’s needs volunteers to run its programs.

Additionally, you can donate space at your workplace or another location to host a Kids Café or Backpack Program.

If you’re short on time but want to help, you can sign up to make a monthly donation to a charity. For example, $25 translates to 175 meals for people in need in the community, according to St. Mary’s. Donations up to $400 per person or $800 per couple are 100% tax deductible under the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit.

For more information on Operation Santa Claus or to learn more about its partners, visit givetotheclaus.com or visit Sanderson Ford or Sanderson Lincoln.