More than 20 years ago a parent with a young child that had special needs asked SATH Executive Director Linda Allen if she would hold a Christmas event for children like her child. What resulted was SATH’s Breakfast With Santa, which will be held for the 22nd year on Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Hillsboro Elementary School cafeteria.
“When I first started I tried to ask parents what kind of things they would like to see happen for the children,” Allen said Monday. “A parent came to me and said she had a problem at the mall because her child was nonverbal and Santa really didn’t communicate with the child. So we’ve tried to do something where children with special needs have the same opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas.”
Allen holds similar events almost every month, but unlike many of them, she said Breakfast With Santa is not a fundraiser.
“It’s an outreach program to give back to the community and give the children a chance to be just like any other child. We do pretty much the same thing every year because we know what works for us,” Allen said.
Allen emphasized that Santa and several of the elves that help at the event can use sign language if that’s what required to communicate with a child.
SATH’s (Supplemental Assistance to the Handicapped) Breakfast With Santa will be held from 9-11 a.m. and reservations are required. The cost is $8 per child and $5 per adult.
The event includes a breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, donuts, cereal and milk, juice and coffee.
“It’s a buffet and anyone that pays to eat can go back as many times as they want,” Allen said. “Sometimes kids are excited when they get here and they want to go do other things before they eat. That’s fine. They can eat anytime they want and they can eat as much as they want.”
The admission price also includes activities for children like getting their picture taken with Santa, making a Christmas decoration with the help of Santa’s elves, and decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus. The children can take all those items home with them the day of the event.
While the kids are playing, Allen said the adults can visit the Santa Sale.
“It’s a lot of stuff we’ve collected and they’re all holiday-related items. People can do a little early Christmas shopping and they’re not expensive items with most things ranging from a couple dollars to $10,” Allen said.
Any proceeds will benefit SATH, a non-profit organization that has activities, programs and services for children with special needs who reside in Adams, Brown, Clinton, Fayette and Highland counties. SATH sponsors programs and services for children with special needs for which federal and state funding is either extremely limited or non-existent. It also puts on KAMP Dovetail each year, a five-day, four-night summer camp for children with special needs. It is held the third week of June at Rocky Fork State Park and serves more than 300 special needs children.
To make a Breakfast With Santa reservation, call Allen at 937-366-6657 (daytime) or Mary Kamphaus at 937-393-8550 (evenings). Registration is limited. You can also visit www.kampdovetail.com to make a reservation and pay online.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.