The Mat-Su Special Santa Program turns 20 this year!!!
Thanks to the support of hundreds of people, businesses, organizations, clubs, and foundations in the
Mat-Su Valley we are able to bring the magic of Christmas to over 3760 children in need each year.
Coordinated by: Mari Jo Parks
& The Very Special Elves
For More Information:
- Hotline: (907) 761-3770
- Friend us on Facebook at:
Mat-Su Special Santa
- Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1664
Palmer, Alaska 99645
Served 3250 children, ages newborn to 18, in 2015, and over 31,000 children since the first year 1997.
Asks Special Santas to fulfill wish lists of children of the Mat-Su Valley from Sutton to Talkeetna.
Needs donations of money, books, toys, coats, electronics, personal items, or gift certificates.
Teams with Toys for Tots, Salvation Army, agencies, food banks, and schools to help families in need.
Appreciates the individuals, businesses, organizations and foundations whose generous donations help bring magic to children and families.
Under the umbrella of Alaska Family Services, a 501c3 Non-Profit Charity.
Welcome to the Mat-Su Special Santa Program!
Special Santa is the largest gift giving program in the Valley. It started in 1997 with 90 children receiving gifts. Last Christmas the program brought toys, winter wear, books, sporting equipment, personal needs items and blankets to over 3275 Valley children from 1104 families. Now in its 20th year the program has given gifts to over 31,000 children in the Valley. Special Santa is under the umbrella of Alaska Family Services, a 501c3 Non-Profit Charity.
Volunteers: Special Santa is completely coordinated by volunteers. Founder Mari Jo Parks coordinates the Program with the help of amazing team of Elves. During the month of December over 500 volunteers from organizations, clubs, church groups, businesses and individuals help in the workshop, putting together children’s wish lists, picking up donations and so much more.
Process of Referral: Low income and families in need with children ages newborn to 18 or through high school may be referred to the Special Santa Program from mid-November through mid-December. They are referred by Toys for Tots, Salvation Army, state and local agencies, food banks, schools, churches, and organizations that work with families in need. Family names are kept confidential. All children receive gifts.
Wish List and Gifts: Every child completes a wish list with the child’s first name, age, favorite color, hobbies and five present suggestions, as well as winter clothing sizes when needed. Each child receives 2 or 3 items on their list or something similar, a new book, stocking stuffers and winter wear when requested and available.
Toys for Tots, U.S. Marine Reserves and Salvation Army: Toys for Tots started working with the Special Santa Program in 1999. We coordinate with the Toys for Tots official coordinator in Anchorage. We are partners with the local Salvation Army. The toys collected from both programs come to and are distributed by the Special Santa Program.
Finances: Other than the small amount of money required for mailings, copying, and supplies, donated funds go for presents to the children. Families are asked to donate a dollar per child for the program, though this may be waived. Parents feel strongly about donating as this is their way of giving back. These donation helps pay for the expenses of the program.
Halloween Hollow: October 31, 3-8pm. This is a co-sponsored event with the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots. Halloween Hollow is a warm, safe, handicapped accessible Trick or Treat Carnival for children and families at Raven Hall on the Alaska State Fairgrounds. Price: $5.00 per person or a new unwrapped toy.
Festival of Trees: From the end of November to the 2nd week in December. Beautifully decorated 4’ Christmas trees are displayed throughout Palmer just after Thanksgiving through the Palmer Chamber of Commerce Colony Days Christmas. Individuals may purchase tickets to be eligible for the drawing to win a tree.
The magic of this program is that every donation makes a huge difference and 100% of it goes to help the families.
The Special Santa Program’s goal is to help children receive the magic of Christmas and know that people care. In reaching this goal the program:
- Coordinates with agencies and programs to provide for families.
- Provides the citizens in the Community an opportunity to give.
- Assists families in need at a stressful time of year.
- Spreads the joy of Christmas throughout the Mat-Su Valley.
We wish you a Very Happy Holiday Season!!!