The History of the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund
Reprinted with permission of The Toronto Star
The Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund was established in 1906 by Toronto Star Founder, Joseph E. Atkinson. Atkinson knew of poverty first-hand. His father was killed in a tragic accident when he was six months old. Left with eight young children to raise, his mother struggled to support the family.
It was a very special Christmas in Atkinson’s own childhood that brought out his dedication to help the poor. As the story goes, one day young Joseph was watching other children skate on the pond. A lady approached and asked him why he wasn’t skating. When she heard his sad tale, she bought him his first pair of skates for Christmas. Atkinson never forgot the warmth and generosity of the stranger who made this Christmas Day the happiest of his childhood.
Years later, Atkinson used The Toronto Star Newspaper to tell readers the stories of other needy children. He asked readers to contribute money, which was used to buy approximately 100 Christmas gifts. The gifts of fruit, candy, socks and mitts were distributed through his local Toronto church, Little Trinity. This tradition lives on with a Toronto Star reporter still writing daily articles about the plight of needy children prior to Christmas.
The gift packages may have changed with the times but the basic concept remains. Today, bright gift boxes are filled with a warm sweater, socks, mittens, hat, book, toy, candy and dental hygiene kit. The merchandise is purchased directly from manufacturers at significant cost-savings. Great consideration is given to each item purchased for the gift box — quality, style, safety, value, variety and reflect age, not gender. 100% of all money donated is spent on purchasing the items contained in the gift boxes. The Toronto Star pays for all administrative costs to the Fund. Therefore, only cash contributions can be accepted, not donations of product or services-in-kind.
For the first time in its history, The Toronto Star Claus Fund expanded its services in 2002 to assist families in Brampton and Mississauga, as well as Toronto. In 2004, the program expanded yet again to help children in Ajax and Pickering. To help raise funds, the Toronto Star,
The Brampton Guardian, The Mississauga News and The Ajax-Pickering News Advertiser feature regular stories in their papers eight weeks prior to Christmas.
Children’s names are submitted to the Star by Ontario Works and more than 90 other social service agencies in Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, Ajax and Pickering. Just as they were in 1906, the gift boxes are still delivered to the homes of the children by volunteers such as church groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, etc. Over one hundred years later, the generosity of our readers continues to make Christmas a little bit happier for 45,000 less-fortunate children!
The Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund fundraising goal is $1.6 million each year.
All donors will receive a tax receipt for income tax purposes after the campaign in January. Acknowledgement cards are available upon request by calling 416-869-4847. Donor contributions will be published in the newspaper during the campaign until mid-January. All contributions are published in the newspaper as a full- page notice. Options available are as follows: Example #1: In memory of Mrs. Smith; #2: Anonymous; #3: In lieu of gifts to ABC Co. clients.
While we have many volunteer elves delivering the boxes – we encourage everyone to make a donation to the Santa Claus Fund. As one of the few charities these days that uses 100% of the funds for the kids, it is a great way to make sure 100% of your donation money goes where it belongs! The Star covers 100% of the administrative costs of the fund, so you know your donation is going to fill the gift boxes.
Each box costs about $35 to fill (learn what goes in each box). Please consider making a donation – you can make a difference!