Alumni Shane Spencer carries on his family’s holiday tradition to bring the spirit of Christmas to low-income families in Marin County. Santa Cop, a non-profit organization that works to provide clothing, toys, and in years past, food to families in need, has been hit hard by the pandemic, but preservers in hopes to continue its yearly mission.
Spencer describes how his main job is to pick up donations from local businesses in Marin County, thank them for their contributions, and sort the items. In the past, two to three weeks before Christmas, wrapping days are hosted where volunteers, including Spencer, gather to prepare the presents for distribution.
“We give three toys per kid: a stuffy, a sports ball, and a bigger toy like a bike if we have enough of them,” Spencer said. “We wrap it all up and put it in a big bag. Two weeks later, families come by and we unload the toys into their cars. They take them home, put them under their trees, and give them to their children.”
Since Santa Cop is a non-profit organization and members are self-insured, Spencer explains how gathering for wrapping days this year was not worth the risk. Despite the circumstances, Spencer and his family continue to do what they can to help the community.
“If any of our members gets COVID it will be put on their insurance to cover it, so we did not wrap the presents this year,” Spencer said. “Instead we put them in one time bags to give to the family for them to take home.”
2020 has been a tough year for small businesses and families across the globe. Spencer exclaims how Santa Cop is not only rewarding in the sense that it brings holiday spirit to struggling families, but also because of where the donations come from.
“It is great to see so many families really happy and thankful to have toys,” Spencer said. “But it is also nice to see local businesses have toy donations that we can pick up because it means people are going to those businesses and supporting them.”
Santa Cop is something Spencer has been doing for 19 years. He remembers running around the workplace, grabbing toys for his mom, and hiding in the stuffed animal bins when he was younger. To him, it has always been about giving children Christmas spirit and making a positive impact in the community.
“The volunteers that participate with Santa Cop have a dedication to doing better in the community and making the community a better place for children,” the president of Santa Cop Hunter Spencer said. “It has been extremely fulfilling for myself and my family.”