573 Magazine Nov 2016 - Page 15

Student Santas is unique because we personally read every letter mailed to us.  We also personally shop for these kids and try very hard to get them what is on their “Dear Santa” list. We then make arrangements with the family to personally deliver their gifts.  It’s such a wonderful experience.  The blessing is certainly mine. To date we have helped close to 20,000 children and their families in Missouri!   I’m so proud of this!  We give children a little bit of hope and that’s what Christmas is all about!  What makes me very happy is that my children are learning the importance of giving and loving. There is no greater gift you can give your child.  My kids go with me to shop for families and they go with me to deliver gifts.  Their silence as we get back to our car, their quiet tears, the tight hugs around my neck, and their decision to give their own belongings away makes me happy.  I believe in my heart that they will grow up giving to others just as God gave his Son to us.  This is the true meaning of Christmas and our purpose for living.... My new goal is to have my own building one day where Student Santas can operate.  We rely every year on businesses or individuals to let us use a vacant building where we store, sort, and bag up gifts.  How awesome would it be to have a place of our own!  I also want to expand Student Santas.  I want to grow this wonderful organization in other communities. Because it started in a university, I’d like to get other universities in surrounding areas to participate and have their own chapter.  They can then branch out to their own community. Giving is contagious and so is feeling good!  One day I’d love for Student Santas to be in every state! You can email Jennifer directly if you’d like to donate or volunteer to a great and unbiased cause at: jenndgast@hotmail.com or visit www. studentsantas.com.